West Coast man photographed his cannabis harvest

Court House-entranceA West Coast man has agreed to hand over part of his property next to the Buller River, as well as his jetboat, trailer, and Harley-Davidson motorcycle after cannabis convictions.

Ross William McIntosh, 52, agreed to the Crown’s demands at his sentencing in the Christchurch District Court today and Judge David Saunders signed the forfeiture order that makes it legal.

McIntosh was found guilty by a jury at a trial in Greymouth in October and has been in custody awaiting sentence on charges of cultivating cannabis, possession of it for sale, possessing equipment for growing it, and unlawful possession of firearms.

He had admitted the firearms charge on the day of the trial.

Crown prosecutor Anselm Williams cited the jetboat as being part of the drug offending.

The jury was shown photographs found on McIntosh’s computer hard-drive and memory stick of him and an unknown co-offender using the boat to travel up the Buller River to an unknown location to tend and harvest a cannabis crop.

There was also a photograph apparently showing cannabis laid out to dry on a tarpaulin, and when the police raided McIntosh’s property in May 2014 they found a container next to the house being used to dry cannabis plants.

A drug dog also found cannabis in two drums that had been recently placed in the rear of the property. The masking tape used to seal the drums was the same as a roll found at McIntosh’s home.

There was no evidence of a hydroponic set-up to grow cannabis, but Judge Saunders said potting mix and fertiliser had been found and there was no sign of what he called “legitimate” gardening projects going on.

He said McIntosh’s criminal history showed he had been involved with cannabis over a long period.

Defence counsel Tony Bamford said McIntosh had been using it for pain relief because of injuries received some years ago when he was attacked while working in Invercargill. He had got into the offending because of his “increasing self-medication”.

Judge Saunders said McIntosh’s doctor did not support the use of cannabis in this way.

The judge accepted that the firearms had been left on a remote part of the property and were not kept to protect McIntosh’s “patch”.

“It is not a good look for people associated with drugs to have firearms on their property,” he said.

McIntosh has until August 31 to raise $110,000 or part of his property will be taken and sold by the Government and the Official Assignee.

Judge Saunders took the forfeiture into account in imposing a sentence of 18 months’ jail, and refusing any application for home detention because he said that would “send the wrong message” to McIntosh and the community.

After release, McIntosh will have to undergo counselling and treatment as required.

The judge told him: “You would be an absolute fool to return to having illegal drugs in your possession or cultivating cannabis in the future.”



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