Trenayr boss paid workers in marijuana

A SAWMILL owner and operator who admitted to supplementing his employees' wages with marijuana will be allowed to serve a 12-month sentence in the community.

Geoffrey Knight, 55, appeared in Grafton Local Court yesterday to plead guilty to the supply of a prohibited drug.

His business, GNR Timbers in Trenayr, was searched by police on May 16.

Amounts of cash were found during the search, which Knight claimed were from a cash sale of timber earlier in the week.

He later told officers he had about 300g of marijuana stored in a black tub inside a green shed.

When police asked what it was for, he said it was to give to his four employees, to make up for their "minimal wage" of $100 a day.

Knight allegedly said the benefit of supplying marijuana to employees was that it made for a happy workplace and good attendance. It also meant he avoided paying worker's compensation.

Further investigations unveiled a pound of marijuana on the back seat of his 4WD, and other small amounts of the prohibited drug with workers, who confirmed they had received it from their boss.

The total amount of marijuana found had an estimated street value of $24,540.

Officers also said they saw 15 to 20 vehicles attend the property within a short space of time, for about five minutes each.

Yesterday, police prosecutor Sergeant Wiles said if there was ever a matter where a custodial sentence was required, this was it.

Magistrate Denes agreed.

"The other issue, and I almost had to chuckle at this, not because it was funny... that this is a sawmill," she said.

"You've not given any thought at all into whether they are impaired. This is a serious allegation of supply. Pay the workers so they can pay their bills."

Knight was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, to be served in the community by way of an intensive corrections order.

An ICO is a custodial sentence composed of a series of mandatory conditions which include community service, drug testing and supervision by Corrective Services.

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