Couple plead guilty over weed crop

One of the cannabis plantations found by police during a raid on the defendant’s Pimlico Road, Wardell property on June 15 2011
One of the cannabis plantations found by police during a raid on the defendant’s Pimlico Road, Wardell property on June 15 2011

A STRUGGLE to keep on top of his mortgage prompted a trained horticulturist from Wardell to establish a large cannabis crop on his property, a court document states.

Darren Bailes, 39, appeared by video link in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to the cultivation and supply of a commercial quantity of cannabis.

His wife, Dale Widdows, pleaded guilty to taking part in the enhanced indoor cultivation of cannabis plants for a commercial purpose.

On June 15 last year, police officers attended the couple's home on Pimlico Rd at Wardell.

After getting through the 1.8m security fence and locked front door, court documents state police found Bailes and Widdows asleep.

After being woken by police officers in his bedroom, Bailes directed the officers to where cannabis was drying in a spare bedroom.

He also told police there were cannabis plants under the house and in a shed on the 2ha property.

Bailes admitted he was using electricity to power his sophisticated set-up without it being metered.

Police found a book on the kitchen bench containing details of a Lismore Hydroponics business and directions for harvesting cannabis.

After finding dried cannabis in several locations in a wardrobe, police found 122 "very healthy and well-cared" for cannabis plants under the house.

In the backyard shed, police discovered 149 cannabis plants ranging from 60-120cm in height.

Court documents state a total of 336 cannabis plants and 5.48 kg of dried cannabis was seized.

In an interview with police, Bailes allegedly admitted to being a "trained horticulturist" whose sole reason for the cannabis operation was for sale and profit as he was having trouble paying his mortgage.

Widdows said she discovered the cannabis operation under the house after she "felt the floor vibrate."

The 27-year-old told police she told her husband she did not want anything to do with it and that she thought it was terrible.

"...but you know, he is my husband and I love him," court documents quote her as stating.

Bailes, who is in custody, and Widdows, who is on bail, were committed for sentence in Lismore District Court on March 26.

Topics:  court hydroponics marijuana

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