A Facebook taunt led to a string of events and then police attention for a Cobden man who was sent to prison this week.
The former Mongrel Mob gang member who set up a sophisticated cannabis growing operation at his home fought back tears in the Greymouth District Court yesterday afternoon as he was jailed for 19 months.
Domingo Joseph Da Silva was sentenced on charges of cultivating cannabis, possession of a class B drug, possession of cannabis equipment, and assault.
On October 17, police went to Da Silva's Cobden house on an unrelated matter, finding 48 plants growing under lights, alongside growing pots, extractor fans and heat lamps, all hidden away in a shipping container.
Da Silva told police he had begun to grow the drug, using You Tube as a guide, after his partner had cut off his tab, as she objected to him spending her money on drugs.
Racist taunts on Facebook were also the driver behind an assault by Da Silva, in which he knocked a man unconscious in a Greymouth supermarket.
In court yesterday, lawyer Marcus Zintl said a Facebook posting from 2012 showed the victim of the assault had made racist threats about Da Silva's children.
On August 29 last year, he saw someone in the Countdown supermarket who he thought had made the threats. He approached the man and asked him if he wanted to step outside. The man refused and Da Silva punched him in the face, knocking him unconscious in the store.
Mr Zintl said Da Silva was genuinely remorseful for the assault, and admitted the was addicted to cannabis and had anger management issues. He was currently in drug and alcohol counselling, and despite being a former Mongrel Mob gang member, he had left that life behind.
The lawyer asked Judge Tony Couch to consider a sentence of home detention, however the judge said that as Da Silva had served two previous prison sentences for cultivation and possession of drugs for supply, he was not prepared to offer that liberty.
"Prison terms are very well known to you," Judge Couch told Da Silva. "You knew exactly what you were doing and you knew exactly how criminal your actions were. Given your previous history of serious drug offending, in particular, no sentence short of prison would meet the sentencing purposes of deterrence and denunciation."
Given that the Facebook comments were made in 2012, the judge said he did not regard that as a mitigating factor in the assault. He sentenced Da Silva to one year, one month and 14 days on the drugs charges, with an additional six months on the assault charge.
Mr Zintl said this morning he would be appealing the sentence.