Tenant guilty of growing pot

A Maple Ridge man who lost his marijuana crop to fire three years ago has been found guilty of growing it for the purpose of trafficking.

Robert John Daley was convicted earlier this month on one count each of producing a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

In his reason for judgement released this week, provincial court judge Thomas S. Woods found Daley was “an active participant” in the maintenance of the marijuana crop.

Daley was renting a house on an acreage at 24186 – 116th Avenue, where a large marijuana growop was discovered in September 2009 following a fire.

Daley’s landlord was in the house on Aug. 1 that year, and again Sept. 1, 2009 to pick up rent cheques and did a walk-through the house.

The court heard she saw no evidence of the marijuana crop in the basement when she visited.

A police expert estimated that the crop, when discovered, was between four and five weeks old.

Daley’s lawyer, Leonard Kompa, asked the judge consider that the plants may have been recently placed in the basement, perhaps by others.

Judge Woods disagreed, saying Kompa provided no facts to back that argument.

“It is difficult to imagine how one could sensibly argue that a person residing in a relatively small house, with a basement readily accessible through an unlocked door, could be unaware of the presence of a moderately sophisticated marijuana grow operation,” said Judge Woods.

“For it to be contended that that could be unfolding in a house rented by Mr. Daley without his knowledge and without his concurrence, is simply untenable.”

Woods also did not buy the defence that Daley was growing the marijuana for medical purposes or to smoke himself since there was no Health Canada license to grow associated with the property.

As for personal use, Judge Woods pointed to testimony given by a female RCMP officer who said the amount of marijuana found was “vastly in excess of what even a heavy user would require for personal use.”

“She gave dramatic testimony in the form of calculations about the time that it would take a heavy user to go through the amount of smokeable or edible marijuana that leaves the court in no doubt that the purpose of the possession was for trafficking,” said Woods.

Court heard that the 165-plant operation would have yielded $15,000 on the street, if sold on the per pound basis, or $47,000, if sold by the gram.

“Even at these low-end numbers, I am left with no question in my mind about the purpose for which this marijuana was possessed,” said Woods.

“It was possessed as a cash crop.”

Daley is set to appear in court for a sentencing hearing on March 27.

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