A Welcome Bay man caught growing 46 cannabis plants with an estimated harvest value of up to $230,000 has narrowly avoided prison.
Max Kiwi-Millman, 27, who last month admitted a charge of cultivating cannabis, appeared for sentence in Tauranga District Court yesterday.
On February 21 police in a spotter plane involved in a national cannabis recovery programme saw cannabis plants growing at the rear of Kiwi-Millman's Rocky Cutting Rd property. Police seized 46 cannabis plants, each about 1m tall, which they calculated had the potential to produce cannabis head material valued at between $161,000 and $230,000.
Kiwi-Millman disputed that assessment, and maintained the dope was for his personal use.
Judge Louis Bidois said even if half the plants reached maturity and were harvested that would be a "mountain of cannabis" and Kiwi-Millman would struggle to consume it all. Judge Bidois said there was definitely a commercial aspect to this offending, but he took into account that there was no evidence of sales and Kiwi-Millman had no prior convictions.
Judge Bidois sentenced Kiwi-Millman to five months' home detention and 140 hours' community work, and warned him any breach of his sentence would see him jailed.
Two other Bay men caught red-handed dealing cannabis appeared in the same court yesterday.
That included Logan Reid Wise, 19, who earlier pleaded guilty to charges of driving while disqualified, possession of cannabis for supply and offering to sell cannabis.
Wise was nabbed after he was stopped at a police checkpoint on March 2 this year. While the officer was talking to Wise, the constable spotted some cannabis on the front passenger seat of the vehicle. During a search of the car, four cannabis tinnies, a set of scales and $3340 were also found.
Wise's cellphone data showed that between February 3 and March 2 he offered to sell or supply cannabis on 25 occasions, the police summary of facts revealed.
Judge Louis Bidois told Wise the starting point for anyone dealing drugs must be prison. "People who sells drugs are drug dealers and anyone who sells drugs to other people which ultimately ruins their lives can have very little pity from me or the court."
However, the judge said he was prepared to give Wise a break because he was a first time offender, and had supportive parents who showed they would dob him in if he chose to reoffend.
Judge Bidois said a sentence of seven-and-half months' home detention would be like a "noose" around Wise's neck and if he breached his sentence he would go to jail. Wise was also sentenced to 140 hours community work, and disqualified from driving for a further six months from August 7.
Nikora Justin Hamilton, 20, who also appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday, pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis plant for supply and dealing cannabis plant.
Hamilton was charged after police searched a Watling St, Gate Pa, address on April 12 this year and found Hamilton and his alleged co-offender seated in front of a mirror with a set of scales and pre-cut pieces of tinfoil used to package tinnies.
Also found were 16 tinnies, about 23 grams of cannabis head, and $190 cash. Hamilton was remanded on bail pending sentencing on August 17.