January 25, 2008

Householder made cannabis room 'disappear'

A carpenter who made a bathroom “disappear” and turned it into a cannabis growing room has been given a term of home detention.

Gareth John Robson did the conversion on his rented house in Milton Street, Sydenham.

He boarded up the door to the bathroom and made it seem the room did not exist.

He then created a concealed entrance through a hole from the bedroom.

Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill said he then turned the bathroom into a cannabis growing room with lights, fans, and heaters. He grew 21 cannabis plants in there, fertilising and watering them daily.

They had been harvested and dried shortly before police raided the house on June 22, and found the hidden entrance.

Cannabis head was found in 16 snaplock bags which were to be sold for a total of $3500.

Robson told police he was going to use the money to clear a debt and then move to Australia.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of cultivating cannabis and possession of the class C drug for supply.

Defence counsel Serina Bailey said Robson’s partner was pregnant with the baby due in April or May. He had full time work and his employer was in court to support him.

“I submit that keeping his employment would be far more useful to all concerned than a term of imprisonment,” she said. She urged the judge to impose home detention.

Judge MacAskill accepted that, but noted: “The crown submits the odour of commerciality must be recognised and the principle of deterrence not undermined.”

He said the fact that Robson had offended at home did not disentitle him to a sentence of home detention.

He ordered that Robson spend six months on home detention with special conditions, with  post-release conditions for him to undertake alcohol and drug assessment and do any recommended follow-up.

He also ordered that all the cannabis growing items seized by the police be forfeited.