News

Prison time for caretaker of Maple Ridge grow op

Police found found a marijuana growop with 1,216 plants in the basement of the house on 222nd Street in Maple Ridge.   - The New/Files
Police found found a marijuana growop with 1,216 plants in the basement of the house on 222nd Street in Maple Ridge. 
— image credit: The New/Files

A man responsible for tending an illegal marijuana grow operation in Maple Ridge will spend a year in prison.

Michael Konstantakis, who pleaded guilty to one count of producing a controlled substance, was handed the prison term despite requesting an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

Provincial Court Judge Marion Buller-Bennett found a conditional sentence would not adequately protect the public.

“These types of offences are committed for the money of some amount, bring crime into residential neighbourhoods, cause damage to private residences, and also are difficult to detect and investigate,” she said in a ruling released last week.

Konstantakis, 44, was arrested on July 7, 2010 after Mounties executed a search warrant at a house in the 21000-block of 222nd Street.

Officers used a ram twice on the fortified front door, but were still unable to open it.

Eventually, Konstantakis allowed police into the house, where they found a marijuana growop with 1,216 plants in the basement.

The operation was powered by a by-pass and a sophisticated electrical system.

An expert calculated the value of the plants at $330,520.

Defence counsel maintained that Konstantakis did not own the grow operation. Rather, he was the caretaker who lived at the house rent-free.

His lawyer, Karen Mirsky, told the court that even though Konstantakis lived in the house, he did not profit or benefit from the crops.

Bhuller-Bennett accepted that Konstantakis was likely the caretaker, but disagreed with defence, saying he did benefit from the grow op because he lived there for free.

Konstantakis has previous criminal convictions for impaired driving, assault and mischief, but had never faced charges for a drug offence before.

“He was not deterred by prior criminal convictions, nor was he deterred by the illegal nature of his acts,” said Bhuller-Bennett.

“The motive was financial and he did gain.”

Besides the one-year prison term, Konstantakis received a 10-year firearms prohibition and was ordered to provide a DNA sample, which will be entered into a national database.

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