Pensioner guilty of growing pot in ensuite
SUFFERING since the death of his childhood sweetheart, 78-year-old Robert Walker began growing marijuana in a hydroponic set-up in his bedroom ensuite.
The District Court at Bundaberg was told the Moore Park Beach grandfather was found with nearly 3kg of marijuana, including plants that were drying.
He grew the drug as a "one-off" after someone told him to try marijuana to help with his grief and sleep.
The sentencing judge told Walker, at his age of 78, he "should have known better".
Walker, a feisty gent, told waiting media to "piss off" when leaving Bundaberg Courthouse after being fined for the offence.
Robert Arthur Walker pleaded guilty to producing the dangerous drug cannabis - exceeding 500g - at Moore Park Beach between May 2016 and May 2017; possession of cannabis exceeding 500 grams on May 8 this year; and possession of things used in the production of a dangerous drug - growing lights, electrical fan, timers, and chemicals.
"There is a reason I did it," Walker interjected from the dock, to Judge William Everson.
Crown prosecutor Clare Kelly said when police went to Walker's home looking for his grandson on an unrelated matter officers found the hydroponic set-up in the ensuite of the master bedroom.
Ms Kelly said the cannabis plants weighed 1kg, and a quantity of cannabis was drying that weighed 2078 grams - a total of 2.79kgs.
"He made full admissions and the drug was destroyed on the spot. He had started the crop 12 months before when his wife died," she said.
"He says he uses to help him sleep, and to gain weight after the loss of his wife."
In the Crown submission Ms Kelly said a $1000 fine was appropriate.
"He's retired. He should have known better, he is old," Judge Everson said
"He did have an offence in 1990 (stealing) but he's not of a bad character."
Defence barrister Simone Bain said it was "really quite sad circumstances" as Walker had been married 57 years since his wife was aged 17 and he 19.
But in 2015 tests found she was riddled with cancer. Walker looked after her and she died in May 2016.
Ms Bain said Walker had chest contractions and anxiety, even difficulty drinking water, and was being medically examined.
He had lost his appetite, suffers insomnia and been dealing with grief over the loss of his wife.
"Someone suggested to him to try cannabis," Ms Bain said.
"It gave him an appetite. And in his words it made his worries seem trivial.
"He set up a (hydroponic) system in the ensuite of the bedroom."
Ms Bain said the crop was going to be a "one-off" and marijuana found drying was to be frozen.
Judge Everson said the maximum penalty was 20 years jail, but as a pensioner a modest fine was appropriate for Walker.
He accepted there was no commercial component to the offences, and Walker had co-operated with police. He said while the offence was serious, Walker was elderly.
Judge Everson fined Walker $500.