Mum’s credit card saves son from jail term

Court House-07A last minute flourish of his mother’s credit card has allowed a home detention sentence for a 33-year-old Leeston man whose successful cannabis growing could have earned $98,000 a year.

Simon Joseph Macdonald had to come up with more than $5000 in a hurry if he was going to avoid a jail term at his Christchurch District Court sentencing.

His employer, who continues to support him, loaned him $2871 to pay for the damage he did by jumping on top of a car that had collided with his ex-partner’s car.

That money was paid into a lawyer’s trust account, but at the time of the sentencing he still had to find $2516 for the estimated electricity he had stolen for his cannabis growing operation by rewiring the connection to avoid the power meter.

After defence counsel James Rapley’s submissions, Judge Alistair Garland was about to send Macdonald to jail when the message came through from the mother in the back of the court that she would pay the outstanding reparations.

Judge Garland stopped the hearing and resumed it after a short break when Macdonald’s mother had paid the money at the court’s collections counter.

“I hope he repays her, with interest, for her kindness,” said the judge.

He sentenced Macdonald to a year’s home detention at an address in Avonhead and ordered him to complete rehabilitation programmes for violent offending, and assessment, counselling and treatment for drug use.

He will have to complete 200 hours of community work, and an order was made for all the reparations. Macdonald will be judicially monitored by Judge Garland during his sentence.

The judge said he wanted to ensure that Macdonald would seriously address his addiction issues.

Macdonald had done a rehabilitation course, but the judge was concerned that in his pre-sentence interview he did not see his continued cannabis use as being a problem – he was now smoking it two days a week rather than daily.

Macdonald was arrested when police went to an address in Leeston where they noticed a strong smell of cannabis and found cannabis plants and cuttings growing in the garage where there was a hydroponic set-up, plants growing in soil, fertiliser, grow lamps, and fans.

The police estimated that four growing cycles over the course of a year would have yielded cannabis worth $98,000 from the operation. Macdonald admitted his cannabis growing had been “rather successful”. He claimed he had been experimenting and this was his first significant crop.

Macdonald had admitted charges of cultivating cannabis, stealing the power, damaging the car, and breaching a protection order.

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