Drug growing couple win fight against losing farm
A Tauranga couple who buried a shipping container on their farm in which to secretly grow marijuana have won a fight to keep the Crown from taking their property.
The Crown wanted the $600,000, 4.5-hectare lifestyle block in Gluepot Rd, Pyes Pa, Tauranga, forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
But Dion Moss and his partner Deborah Bearsley won a reprieve this month because a judge took pity on Ms Bearsley, who is an invalid with severe injuries from a 1983 car accident.
Moss and Bearsley bought the hobby farm eight years ago to breed ponies, but four years ago decided to move into growing cannabis.
They bought a 12-metre shipping container and buried it in a hillside on the farm, putting a shed on top to disguise the entrance to it.
They then spent two years setting it up – dividing it into three rooms, lining the walls with reflective silver foil, and installing a hydroponic system, extractor fans and a carbon filter.
They also tampered with their meter box to siphon off $26,000 of electricity to run the growing operation, without paying for the power.
During a police raid in December 2008, officers found a trap door in the shed leading to the buried container.
Moss, 45, an unemployed beneficiary, was sentenced to 25 months' jail for cultivating cannabis and Bearsley, 48, a sickness beneficiary, received five months' home detention for permitting premises to be used for cultivating cannabis.
Sentencing them, Justice Graham Lang said it was "an extraordinarily sophisticated cannabis growing operation" which police estimated would generate $100,000 of cannabis a year.
However, Moss and Bearsley made much less, earning $28,000 from their first two crops.
The Crown had asked for the property to be seized, but Moss and Bearsley appealed against that happening.
Bearsley said she was severely incapacitated as a result of a car crash in 1983. ACC had assessed her as being 85 per cent disabled.
In the High Court at Auckland, Justice Douglas White said: "I have little difficulty in concluding that a forfeiture order in respect of the property where she lives would cause undue hardship to Ms Bearsley. It would be a severely disproportionate outcome for her."
He declined the Crown's application to seize the property.
The Domoinion Post
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2010