Man busted watering $460,000 marijuana crop
AFTER suffering from a back injury, a Queensland man turned to marijuana to help treat his pain, but his attempts at cultivating the plant to make cannabis oil came crashing down when police busted him watering a crop worth more than $460,000 in bushland north of Grafton.
Rodney John Lee Harding, from Nerang, appeared in Grafton Local Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana between an indictable and commercial quantity.
According to police facts, at 1.55pm on January 10 this year investigators from the Coffs/Clarence Rural Crime Prevention Team and Coffs Harbour Region Enforcement Squad attended an area of Banyabba Nature Reserve, Coaldale Valley, after receiving information of a large and elaborate marijuana plantation between Upper Camira Creek Trail and Mount Marsh Rd.
In the area investigators found a well-used walking track, and 300m further a trail bike was discovered. Police soon found seven 1000L intermediate bulk containers on top of a ridge line.
Police spotted Harding standing near a number of marijuana plants.
Police drew their firearms and arrested Harding, who told them that some weeks ago he had stumbled across the site and made it his own. Harding said he had propagated around 100 plants from seed, and regularly travelled from Queensland to water and fertilise the plants.
An examination of the plantation revealed an enhanced gravity-fed water reticulation system, fed from bulk containers into a number of 44-gallon drums, with plants in extremely healthy condition.
A total of 230 plants were seized, which had an estimated street value worth $460,000.
In Grafton Local Court, Harding's lawyer said her client had used marijuana as a way of dealing with the pain associated with a back injury, and had used cannabis oil but the unreliable strength of it meant Harding was looking to make his own, so he could control how strong it was.
Magistrate Jeff Linden sentenced Harding to a 18-month community corrections order.