Lake raid on $200k drug home

By Abigail Hartevelt

Cannabis worth up to $205,000 has been found at a Rotoiti home only accessible by boat, the Rotorua District Court has been told.

William Roy May, 36, has appeared in court for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to a charge each of cultivating cannabis, possession of equipment for cultivating cannabis, receiving, possession of cannabis, possession of cannabis resin, driving while disqualified and giving false details.

Judge James Weir sentenced May to two years and two months' jail and disqualified him from driving for a year.

Judge Weir said on January 16 a Rotorua home was the subject of a burglary in which 14 cannabis plants and a chainsaw were stolen.

A month later May's Rotoiti home near the Rotoiti hotpools, which could only be accessed by boat, was searched by police and 41 cannabis plants ranging from 12cm to 55cm in size were found in two cannabis growing rooms. Judge Weir said the amount of cannabis if matured and sold in pound (453g) lots would be worth between $143,500 and $205,000. The drugs found, if sold as tinnies, would have sold for more.

The 14 cannabis plants taken in the burglary were found growing at May's property and May said he was growing another eight plants, but Judge Weir said that did not explain the remaining 19 plants.

Judge Weir said May could have discarded the 14 plants he received but he chose to continue growing them.

"Things just do not add up," Judge Weir said.

Sealable bags containing cannabis and bags containing hash blocks were also found as well as cash worth $7400 in zip lock bags under the house. Bags of fertiliser were also found.

Police found 180g of dried cannabis and 5.6g of hash blocks.

The amount of cannabis found was significant and while the cultivation set-up was unsophisticated there were indications the drug-growing was an ongoing operation.

Judge Weir said an affidavit he had seen from someone who said he had paid May $7000 for a boat was valueless.

"'I do not accept the contents of that affidavit at all. The money was clearly for the sale of cannabis."

Text messages on May's cellphone indicated there was cannabis dealing.

The court was told May had previous convictions for drug offending.

Judge Weir said May should be commended for weaning himself off cannabis and alcohol but that could have been due to the predicament he found himself in.

Judge Weir said he had read an impressive number of references from Auckland businessmen who had holidays at Lake Rotoiti, who spoke of May being a friendly person.

May's lawyer, Bill Lawson, said May had been taking care of the Rotoiti hotpools and had kept his job there.

May had a drug screening test and no drugs of any kind were found which was a large step forward for him, Mr Lawson said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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