Guilty verdict in pot plants trial

IT WASN’T unanimous, but a jury in the Lismore District Court has returned an 11 to one guilty verdict in the trial of Wayne Maslin that he knowingly cultivated 1400 cannabis plants; and had 14kgs of cannabis leaf for the purpose of supply.

The drugs were found at his rural property west of Kyogle five years ago.

As the matter entered its third week yesterday, the jury, which had been considering its verdict since Thursday afternoon, advised Judge James Black it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case against the 49-year-old personal trainer, who is now living at Currumbin on the Gold Coast.

Judge Black explained to the jury they only needed a majority verdict and directed they retire to further consider the matter.

Within minutes the jury returned to the courtroom with the two majority guilty verdicts, which were accepted by Judge Black.

Maslin’s partner immediately burst into tears from her seat in the public gallery.

The drug offences relate to Maslin having the cannabis leaf in plastic containers in his half-built cabin at Loadstone, with the plants discovered growing on land at his remote rural property on Fern Tree Road in February 2005 – just days after he was charged by Queensland police on unrelated drug matters.

The Crown in its case identified what it considered to be similarities in both matters and yesterday following the verdict revealed Maslin had received a suspended jail sentence on the Queensland offence, where he was charged and convicted over possession of a quantity of cannabis.

Following the verdict, Maslin sat quietly in the dock sipping from a bottle of water and exchanging glances toward his visibly distressed partner.

Defence barrister Peter O’Connor asked that bail be continued for his client until the date of his sentencing to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be completed.

Judge Black refused to extend his bail, with the matter adjourned to August for sentence.

He thanked the jury members for their work and attention paid to the case, saying they now knew what a difficult exercise it could be.

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