Police chopper spots cannabis crop

WITH bad neck and back pain, a Wardell painter did not duck for cover when police in a helicopter doing aerial surveillance spotted his marijuana crop growing on his rural property.

Instead, Keith Hammond, 60, greeted the officers when they arrived at his Thurgates Lane home on February 25 and quickly pointed out where the 28 marijuana plants were growing.

Hammond pleaded guilty in the Ballina Local Court to cultivating the marijuana plants on February 25.

Defence lawyer Vince Boss explained to Magistrate Jeff Linden that his client had been growing the plants for his personal use to help with his chronic neck and back pain.

A medical report was put before the court that detailed the medical problem.

Mr Boss asked for some leniency in the matter because his client had no criminal history.

He said Hammond met the police at his gate and took the officers straight to the plants.

“He lives on 100 acres and the plants were just 10 metres off the road,” Mr Boss said.

“It is not that he tried to hide them.

“He is a gentleman who has smoked on and off over the years. He is not one for prescription medicines and uses marijuana for pain relief and has back and neck issues ... it causes spinal problems. And (as a painter) he has limited capacity to work due to his health concerns.”

Mr Linden said police detected the plants from the air and they certainly were not hidden.

He said Hammond had no criminal convictions and given this lack of history he would order a 12-month good behaviour bond without recording a conviction.

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