Drugs, firearms earn fine, bond

A 55-YEAR-OLD timber cutter grew marijuana and kept a collection of illegal firearms, the Casino Local Court was told on Wednesday.

Along with one cannabis cultivation charge, Patrick Lewis Cooper faced three firearms charges, one of having stolen goods – two double-barrelled shotguns – and one each of possessing a prohibited weapon and of having explosives without a licence.

The Old Bonalbo man pleaded guilty to all seven charges.

A serious car accident in 1998 had left Cooper incapacitated and with post-traumatic stress disorder, defence barrister Megan Cusack told the court.

To treat the pain from the injuries, and his long-term sciatica, Cooper self-medicated with cannabis, which was why he had set up the hydroponic system in a shed on his property.

He cooked the drug, rather than smoked it, which explained the need for such a quantity, Ms Cusack said.

Cooper denied police claims that the 26 plants found by police were one metre high, she said, but did not dispute the number.

As to the firearms, Cooper had no idea that the two shotguns were stolen, she said.

He kept another gun on top of a cupboard because he had major problems with wild dogs on his isolated 810ha property and needed it ‘at any time of the night’.

Cooper had no criminal record in NSW and was not a person to flout the law, Ms Cusack said.

In fact, before his accident he had been a well-respected ranger on North Stradbroke Island for more than seven years.

He wasn’t aware the slingshot was a prohibited weapon and the explosives found were old and useless fireworks, she said.

Magistrate Robyn Denes said she noted Cooper’s early pleas of guilty, which entitled him to a 25 per cent discount in sentence.

“But more than that, it is also a significant sign that you accept responsibility,” she said.

But she told Cooper ‘whatever your view there are other ways than cannabis to treat pain’.

She placed him on a good behaviour bond for 12 months on three charges and fined him a total of $450 for failing to keep weapons safe. There were no additional convictions on the fireworks and slingshot charges.

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