Drug-grower caught again, gets stern warning

A Balclutha woman found history repeating when she appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Just as in 2009, Leane Carol Loach (50) was convicted on cannabis charges and again she was sentenced to home detention.

Judge Kevin Phillips was adamant there would be no third time.

"What I can guarantee is if you get involved in the industry again, prison is inevitable," he said.

In the latest episode, police raided Loach’s rented home in Stewart St and found a mature "mother" plant in a special  grow room.

At least eight months earlier, the defendant had converted a spare room to serve her illicit purpose. It was insulated, extraction fans and high-voltage lights had been installed and it had been lined with reflective silver paper. Loach would grow plants with seeds from the mother plant, "using a converted cupboard for propagation purposes".

Once the seedlings were established they were moved to the main growing area and  they were later harvested and hung from the ceiling to dry. It was a slick operation, police said.

"The defendant demonstrated knowledge and ability in cannabis growing in the process that she used to maximise yield from the plants," a summary of facts said.

The 600gm of cannabis head material found at the address would sell for more than $5000, according to police calculations.

Loach argued the sophisticated grow was set up to satisfy her hefty habit.

But Judge Phillips was cynical.

"Personally I don’t think you could function if you were smoking an ounce a week," he said.

Loach claimed her use of cannabis was driven by the drug’s pain-killing qualities.

Again, Judge Phillips rubbished that explanation.

"In reality it was all because of your addiction."

Loach was convicted of possessing cannabis, possessing cannabis for supply, possessing cannabis seed and cultivating cannabis.

In 2009, she was sentenced to home detention for 10 months.

Yesterday it was half that.

Judge Phillips imposed a term of five months’ home detention and added 200 hours’ community work.

The sentence will be served at a different Balclutha home from the one  where the offending took place.

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