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Banana grower jailed over 3000 dope plants

BANANA grower Garry Ronald Howard, 63, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years' jail yesterday after pleading guilty to growing nearly 3000 cannabis plants, a large commercial quantity, on his family's farm at Burringbar.

Lismore District Court heard Howard nurtured the crop in six plots along a creek bed running through the property.

Howard said he had no intention of growing so much of the prohibited drug.

He said the seeds had washed down from upstream and had taken root on his property.

In sentencing Howard, Judge Colin Charteris said the evidence showed he did intend to sell some of the crop and had admitted to being a regular smoker of the drug.

“I concede much of the plants were along the creek and he took advantage of the crop that presented itself,” he said.

“One would have thought at his age he would not be thinking about cultivating cannabis.

“I accept he did not intend the large size of the crop.”

The crop was discovered in January this year during operations involving the NSW drug squad and local police.

Howard was convicted and given a non-parole period of three-and-a-half years, with an expected release date of March, 2012.



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