A Ravenswood man who installed three camouflaged swimming pools to water $225,000 worth of cannabis that he was growing in compounds at Tomahawk has escaped a jail term.
The Supreme Court heard that Callen Best, 26, had never grown cannabis and learnt the basics of his sophisticated operation from the internet.
He told police he was saving to buy a food truck.
Best pleaded guilty to cultivating a controlled plant for sale and a count of possessing a controlled plant and was sentenced to a home detention order.
On March 3 this year, the Northern drug squad located three compounds of cannabis plants on Crown land near Tomahawk Beach.
Two of the compounds were fenced and in total housed 57 plants.
"All of the plants were well spaced, well-tended, mature and healthy, at the flowering stage with significant budding," Acting Justice David Porter said.
He said that the plants were mostly in pots and were irrigated via a series of PVC pipe, pumps and tanks from three medium size swimming pools full of water which were painted and draped with shade cloth to conceal their presence.
Best told police that he constructed the compounds, purchased and constructed all of the equipment, planted the cannabis from seed in November 2020, and then regularly attended them to fertilise and irrigate.
"Your intention was to harvest and sell the crop for an anticipated return of about $2,000 per plant, just over $100,000, and the money was to be used to fund the purchase of a food truck," he said.
The court heard that police estimate that the crop would have produced about 34 kilograms of dried cannabis which could have been worth more than $225,000. The amount would have been considerably more if sold in smaller quantities.
However, it was accepted that he did not have the skills to organise street sales.
The court heard that Best was held an employment position of responsibility.
Acting Justice Porter said organised cultivation of cannabis would ordinarily attract a prison sentence.
"However I also consider that a wholly suspended sentence is not sufficiently punitive in light of the scale and nature of your enterprise," he said.
"For that reason, I have concluded that home detention is the appropriate sentence. It will carry a significant restriction on your liberty while enabling you to continue your employment.
He ordered that he serve a 10-month home detention order.
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