Stolen goods traded for cannabis

Court House-general2A cannabis grower at Balcairn, North Canterbury, has admitted receiving high-value stolen goods in payment for his drugs.

Justin Tiaki Fisher, 35, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to 14 charges of receiving stolen goods from burglaries all around the district, as well as cultivating cannabis, possession of the class C drug for supply, and unlawful possession of a shotgun.

Judge Paul Kellar refused his application for bail and remanded him in custody for sentencing on December 11. He asked for a probation report and a home detention report although he said it was serious offending and a jail term was likely.

Defence counsel Josh Lucas said Fisher sought bail to put his affairs in order ahead of his sentencing. He said Fisher had children and his partner was struggling to deal with the effects of his remand in custody.

Mr Lucas explained to the court: “He grew cannabis for his own use, and some for supply. He would receive some stolen goods in trade for cannabis, but it was not a great monetary amount, and he was living a relatively poor lifestyle.”

Fisher was granted bail after his arrest, but was arrested again in August for breaching his bail curfew and has been held in custody since then.

Refusing bail pending sentencing, Judge Kellar said he was not unsympathetic to personal circumstances but they would always be a secondary concern in cases where a prison term was almost inevitable.

The police raid on his property in Balcairn followed what police described as a spate of burglaries in the weeks leading up to July 17.

Crown prosecutor Clare Boshier said police found Fisher at the property smoking cannabis early in the morning. He lived there with his partner and their three children. Police found a cannabis growing operation in sectioned-off part of a bedroom.

“This bedroom was directly opposite one of the young children’s bedrooms and was easily accessible by all of the young children,” she said.

Police found 28 immature cannabis plants which they said would yield drugs with a street value of $49,000 a year. Fisher disputes that amount.

Containers of poor quality cannabis leaf totalling 1750g were found in the growing room and in a freezer. A separate bag had 132g of high quality cannabis. Text messages indicated drug dealing.

A dismantled Winchester 12-gauge shotgun was found hidden under the house.

The receiving charges involved goods stolen in numerous burglaries throughout North Canterbury.

They included a motorcycle trailer worth $2000, a gas-powered brazier worth $550, a compressor, wool sacks, spraying backpack, kayak, chainsaw, diving gear, wheels and tyres, a barbecue, a television, a motor vehicle, solar panels, a nail gun, and a donation box from a hotel.

Judge Kellar noted that Fisher had a conviction in 2009 for cultivating cannabis.

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