A 64-year-old man's cannabis growing operation, which supplied a "group of elderly clients", has been exposed.
Following a police raid on his South Taranaki home, Arthur Leslie Richardson's supply of dried cannabis, along with 57 plants and the sophisticated set up used to grow the plant were all seized.
Richardson told police he used cannabis as pain relief for previous shoulder and back injuries and also sold it to others to use for medicinal purposes. He said he had started the illegal activity at the age of 59, just prior to undergoing surgery.
On Tuesday, the 64-year-old pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis, possession of the class C drug for supply and possession of equipment to grow it.
Defence lawyer Grant Vosseler told Judge Garry Barkle while the charges were serious, most of the cannabis was destined for Richardson's own use or to supply a "group of elderly clients".
During the search of Richardson's Stanners St home in Eltham on December 22, a purpose built secure area at the rear of the garage was found, which housed two separate cannabis grow rooms.
Along with 120 cannabis seedlings, 23 cannabis plants were found in one of the rooms. Ten of the plants were between 80-90 centimetres in height and the remaining 13 plants about 50cm high.
In the second grow room, police located a total of 34 Cannabis plants, 19 of which were described as "budding".
The rooms had tailored lighting set up and were also decked out with fans, timers and thermometers.
Near the grow rooms, police also found 27 empty plastic pots with handles, and LED lights which were still in the packaging.
Police also seized 54 grams of dried cannabis head material which was found in two paper bags.
In the laundry of Richardson's home, a further six plastic zip lock bags were found by officers, each containing cannabis.
Other stashes of cannabis were found hidden inside a TV cabinet in the dining area of the house.
All up, about 80 grams of cannabis were found.
A box of the plastic zip lock bags, digital scales and scissors used for "manicuring" the harvested cannabis were also located.
During a conversation with police, Richardson said he had started to grow cannabis as it was too expensive to buy.
He on sold the plant for between $50-$100, depending on the amount and said he used the profits to pay his power bill, which was high due to the expense incurred by running the grow rooms.
Vosseler asked Barkle to consider sentencing his client to community work for the offending and also offered a $5000 donation to the Salvation Army courtesy of the defendant. Richardson has no previous convictions.
However, Barkle said he wanted to know more about Richardson before he sentenced him.
The judge convicted the defendant and ordered a pre-sentence report ahead of sentencing in the Hawera District Court on March 15.