Cannabis grower seeks home detention

A drug grower with a "sophisticated" set-up, a sawn-off shotgun and a crop worth nearly $50,000 claims he should have been sentenced to home detention.

Simon Gillan’s Mosgiel home was raided in September last year, which revealed the 37-year-old was running an illicit operation behind the legitimate car-painting business at the address.

He has served four months of a 26-month prison term and his counsel, Sarah Saunderson-Warner, told the High Court at Dunedin yesterday that the sentence should be reduced and converted to home detention.

Gillan, she said, was growing cannabis at the Factory Rd address primarily to service his own addiction.

Two weeks of police surveillance found four transactions, which netted the defendant $1100.

Ms Saunderson-Warner argued the sales and cultivation showed no higher level of sophistication than any other indoor set-up seen by the court.

But Crown prosecutor Richard Smith disagreed.

Gillan had the usual lighting and fan equipment installed but he said the hydration and CCTV systems took it to a higher level of intricacy.

"This had all the hallmarks of something that was going to be ongoing," Mr Smith said.

He accepted the start point taken by the judge when calculating sentence was "on the high side" but said it was not excessive.

When police searched the property, they found two back rooms of Gillan’s garage had been converted into drug growing chambers.

Officers seized 16 mature cannabis plants (up to 52cm in height), two young plants and 27 clones in propagation boxes.

There was also a range of fertilisers on site, the court heard.

Plants were labelled according to strains: "B Berry", "Big Kush", "Critical" and "PB Playboy" among them.

The projected yield could have netted the defendant nearly $46,000, police calculated.

Inside a reusable shopping bag officers also found a sawn-off .22 firearm loaded with a single round.

Gillan explained that gang members had visited the house after hearing he was selling cannabis and a friend later gave him the weapon for protection.

While the firearm was not found in close proximity to the drugs, Mr Smith said that factor had carried little weight with the sentencing judge.

"[It’s] purely for nefarious purposes," he said.

Justice David Gendall reserved his decision.

Ms Saunderson-Warner said should the appeal be granted, Gillan’s mother’s home was still available for a sentence of home detention



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