THREE people who grew more than 40 kilograms of cannabis near Chiltern say the drug cache was for personal use.
Shane Gilbert Emmins, 47, his partner Sally Ann Gibson, 42, and Kevin William Nightingale, 52, each pleaded guilty yesterday in the County Court at Wodonga to cultivating cannabis.
They had started harvesting the cannabis, which was growing on adjoining properties, in the week before a police raid on April 6, 2011.
Officers seized just under 25 kilograms from the Mason Gap’s Road property of Nightingale, who is the half-brother of Emmins, and 17.4 kilograms from the nine-hectare property where Emmins and Gibson were living.
Both Emmins and Nightingale admitted when giving evidence they would have had sufficient cannabis to keep them going for years.
They gave evidence to try to persuade Judge Marilyn Harbison the large amount of cannabis was not for the purpose of trafficking the drug.
They have to prove on the balance of probabilities it was purely for their use.
The court has been told all three claim they used the drug for pain relief.
But Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore said Emmins and Nightingale had previous drug convictions.
Mr Moore said immediate jail terms of three to six months for Emmins and Nightingale should be imposed if Judge Harbison finds they did not have the cannabis for trafficking.
Ít was suggested a community corrections order could be imposed on Gibson.
The penalties rise if they fail to sway the judge on the reason for having so much cannabis.
Mr Moore said Emmins claimed when interviewed by police that he didn’t know Nightingale was growing cannabis.
It was conceded by Mr Moore that no scales, deal bags or record of sales were found at either property.
“There is no evidence of enrichment,” Mr Moore said.
“It was well organised. It had all the hallmarks of a progressive operation.
“The sheer quantity belies that it was for their own use.”
Emmins, who had 35 boxes of cannabis heads drying, pleaded guilty in 1997 to cultivating and trafficking cannabis.
Nightingale received a bond in 1984 for growing cannabis, was charged with cultivating cannabis in 1991 and trafficking, cultivating and using cannabis in 1997.
Judge Harbison was told the three decided to grow cannabis because it was too costly to buy.