Law-abiding citizen turns to crime for pain relief

DOZENS of healthy marijuana plants found thriving in a retired man's backyard had not been planted for economic benefit.

Instead, for disability pensioner Arthur Sargeant, the usual law-abiding citizen was growing his crop to help with a serious medical problem.

It was his misguided attempt to bring some pain relief while undergoing cancer treatment.

Police who raided his Lockyer Valley home at Summerholm say Sargeant's crop could have produced as much as 13-14kg of the drug from the 47 plants.

Arthur William Sargeant, 64, went before the Ipswich District Court and pleaded guilty to producing the dangerous drug marijuana - in excess of 500g, between September 1, 2017 and February 2, 2018; and possession of marijuana in excess of 500g at Summerholm on February 23, 2018.

Office of Director of Public Prosecutions legal officer Cecelia Bernardin said police found 47 marijuana plants that were 1.8m tall growing in Sargeant's yard.

"He told police the plants were all for his use and been growing them since September 2017," Ms Bernardin said.

"Nine coffee jars inside his house held 1.3kg of leaf and 150 cannabis seeds."

Ms Bernardin said while the amount of the crop was significant, the Crown did not allege it was for commercial purposes and a large fine was appropriate.

She said Sargeant was co-operative with police.

Judge Dennis Lynch QC said it was a large quantity and queried as to whether any drug utensils had been found.

Ms Bernardin said no, only an instruction booklet on how to grow the illicit drug. She said there was no money or clip seal bags.

Defence barrister Scott Neaves said prior to being found with the drugs, Sargeant was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

"The purpose of the cannabis use was to manage his pain," Mr Neaves said.

"He was struggling to deal with the diagnosis and pain and is also suffering severe depression.

"He had a discussion with a gentleman at a pub (about using marijuana) and that is how it happened."

Mr Neaves said since being charged, Sargeant was not using the drug and was taking prescribed medication.

Sargeant will also undergo more treatment which includes chemotherapy.

Medical documents supporting his diagnosis and treatment were provided.

Mr Neaves outlined the extensive career and contribution made by Sargeant in his professional field of social work.

As a result of his illness, Sargeant had to retire on a disability pension.

Judge Lynch took into account that Sargeant had no previous offences, his good background, and his ongoing medical issues.

He was satisfied that Sargeant would not re-offend. Judge Lynch convicted and fined Sargeant $3000, sent to SPER for a payment plan.