A COUNTY Court judge has rejected claims by three people with large cannabis caches that it was purely for personal use.
Judge Marilyn Harbison heard evidence on Thursday about police finding more than 40 kilograms of cannabis on two adjoining properties near Chiltern in a raid on April 6 last year.
Officers seized almost 25 kilograms of cannabis from the Mason Gap Road property of Kevin William Nightingale.
They found 17.4 kilograms on the nine-hectare property of Nightingale’s half-brother, Shane Gilbert Emmins, who lives with his partner Sally Ann Gibson.
All pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating cannabis, but sought to persuade Judge Harbison that the large amounts were not for trafficking.
“The legislation is clearly designed to throw the onus on the offender,” Judge Harbison said.
She said Emmins, 47, and Gibson, 42, had cannabis growing in purpose-built enclosures.
Emmins claimed the enclosures were built to stop their children seeing the plants and it was huge surprise that the cannabis grew so well.
But Judge Harbison said that there were discrepancies in Emmins’ evidence and the sheer quantity of drug cast doubts on his credibility.
Similarly she said Nightingale’s evidence was at odds with the volume of cannabis found.
Nightingale was unable to explain why he had planted nine plants and they were only female plants which provide material for harvest unlike male plants.
There was evidence of a progressive planting regime with hundreds of cannabis seeds found.
Barrister Charles Morgan, for Emmins and Gibson, said Emmins had been stood down from the CFA after the charges were laid and both had lived with the consequences of their actions.
They were well known in their community, Emmins works for North-East Water and considerable publicity had had an impact.
Mr Morgan said Gibson was using cannabis to ease long-standing issues with pain.
“She is trying to give up marijuana notwithstanding the pain issue,” he said.
Barrister David Gray said Nightingale, 52, suffered a significant back injury in 1994 and used cannabis for pain relief.
“He has now stopped using cannabis,” Mr Gray said.
Judge Harbison deferred sentencing until next week.