Home detention for ‘Robin Hood’ after $120k of cannabis seized

A judge compared a Dunedin man to "Robin Hood" for his role in growing more than $120,000 worth of cannabis.

Sage Florence Tree, 28, appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week after a police aircraft spotted four cannabis plots at his home on February 10 — leading to the seizure of 81 plants.

Judge Emma Smith said the man had no appreciation of the level of criminality in the offending and suggested he may liken himself to "Robin Hood" or a "green fairy".

On March 22, police entered the lifestyle block and met Tree, who co-operated with the bust.

They noted the man was living a minimalistic lifestyle and had no possessions of value.

All vehicles at the property and the structure itself were in various states of disrepair.

Due to safety concerns surrounding the "makeshift" home, police notified the local council.

Grow tents, lights and electric fans were found inside the dwelling, along with 22.5 ounces of cannabis.

Four sets of scales and over 100 resealable bags were also located, indicating a level of commercial drug dealing, the judge said.

The estimated value of cannabis and potential yield was between $123,000 and $182,000.

"He is supplying drugs.

"He is addled.

"He has soiled thinking, doesn’t he?" Judge Smith said.

"I think he has profited from it significantly."

When police undertook an analysis of Tree’s bank account there was no evidence of "unexplained cash deposits" or "considerable monetary profits".

"There is no luxurious lifestyle ... There were no large amounts of cash being found, no electronic transactions ... There is no evidence of a profit being made here," counsel Andrew More said.

Judge Smith disagreed.

"You certainly profited in some ways but I cannot arithmetically determine the extent."

Mr More said the "very low-level operation" was partly created to sustain Tree’s personal cannabis use due to mental health issues.

Since his arrest, the man had received a medical marijuana prescription due to his "genuine need" for the prohibited substance.

Mr More said Tree believed he was "providing a service to his community" as the cannabis was often incorporated into food and gifted to those who used it as a "preferred medication".

"This is a man of good character," Mr More said.

"He is not even within a bull’s roar of good character," Judge Smith said before noting a "highly relevant" previous conviction.

Tree was convicted on three charges related to the cannabis operation and sentenced to seven months’ home detention.