Grower played classical music to cannabis crop

By Gisborne Herald staff

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A man played classical music to his cannabis plants during a "kitset" growing venture from which he hoped to profit by $30,000 every three weeks, Gisborne District Court was told.

The musical encouragement was all part of "frank admissions" to police by an unskilled grower when his house was searched.

Verdun Sturgus Kemp, 21, pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis - a charge that carries a maximum seven-year prison term.

He was jailed yesterday by Judge Jonathan Down for two years and one month.

The court heard when police with a search warrant went to Kemp's home on November 1 last year, he led them to a bedroom set up like a professional growing room, where 287 plants were being reared.

Counsel Alistair Clarke said Kemp purchased the set-up after a trip to Hawkes Bay to buy a smaller kitset, with which he hoped to supply his own habit.

Kemp was tired of buying the drug from other sources, which sometimes included gang members.

But in buying the kitset, he fell prey to a clever salesperson who convinced him to spend about $15,000 on a more comprehensive set-up and aim to grow more.

"Kemp went to buy a Mini, but left with a Clubsport," Mr Clarke said.

Contrary to what the Crown alleged, Kemp was acting on the impulsiveness of youth. He was not a skilled grower, just a man who had judiciously followed the kitset instructions, Mr Clarke said.

His naivety was evident in his forecast profit. Realistically he was never going to make $400 an ounce. Cannabis normally sold for no more than $300 an ounce, Mr Clarke said.

Kemp's first crop succumbed to bud rot and there was nothing to say his second crop, growing at the time he was caught, would not have failed.

Crown solicitor Josh Lucas said Kemp's growing operation was relatively sophisticated and he put effort into his plants, as borne out by his frank admissions to police. Kemp even admitted playing music to them.

Any discount for Kemp's youth should be minimal. His offending did not involve peer pressure or impulsive behaviour - it was calculated to get as much money in as short a time as possible, Mr Lucas said

The judge allowed a discount of three months for Kemp's youth and frankness.

A sentence that fell within the range of home detention would not be adequate, he said.

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