A secret room hidden, in a shed behind a concealed wall containing a sophisticated hydroponic cannabis set up was discovered in the execution of a search warrant in March.
Shane Paul Carusi, 48, came before Griffith Local Court on Wednesday charged with the cultivation and possession of 13 plants, as well as two other charges relating to firearms safe-keeping.
On March 13, officers from a Murrumbidgee Proactive Crime Team searched Carusi's Boorga Road property as part of an ongoing investigation into cannabis cultivation.
When police attended the property, with the father of three not at the residence.
During the search, police noticed one shed longer on the outside than the interior. They also heard fans running where there were none in the shed, and saw air ducts concealed by wooden pallets.
Upon closer inspection, they found a door concealed in a fake wall. They discovered a sophisticated hydroponic set up behind it.
When Carusi arrived on the property, he was "uncooperative". When police told him they had found the hidden room, he denied it and said "show me". Even when they lead him into the shed, he continued to say "show me where it is".
"It's all for my own personal use," he stated when they did show him, and admitted to using "a bit" daily for medicinal purposes.
He claimed to have found the seeds "by the side of the road". During the search, police found 330 grams of cannabis leaf. Due to the cultivation, police then went to take his registered guns away.
They found them not kept as per the legal requirements. While four guns were registered in his name, only three were there. Carusi said he "must have lost it".
His legal representative Olivia Harris, argued this was his "first foray into criminal offending", and had excellent prospects of rehabilitation due to stable employment and being in a stable relationship for 12 months.
She said he "stumbled onto the path" as a result of his marriage break-down three years earlier.
Magistrate Joy Boulos said sentencing was a "difficult balancing act" but took into consideration his early plea of guilty, clear indication of remorse, good prospects of rehabilitation, "unblemished" record.
He was convicted of all four charges, with a community corrections order for 18 months for cultivation, a $600 fine for possession, and an $800 fine for not keeping his guns safe.
While you're with us, did you know that you can now receive updates straight to your inbox every Monday at 6am from The Area News? To make sure you're up to date with all the Griffith and MIA news you can sign up here.