News

Cannabis grower begs judge to extend his jail sentence

A FATHER of nine, who planted one of Australia's largest marijuana crops, has argued in Queensland's highest court that his 13-year jail sentence was "manifestly inadequate".

Wearing a t-shirt printed front and back with the words "abortion is killing" in red, Michael Bennett Gardner Snr told the Court of Appeal that Queensland did not understand the "full gravity" of his actions which should have attracted at least 20 years behind bars.

Gardner, who must serve 80% of his sentence before he can apply for parole, told the court he would not apply for parole because it would be "unethical".

"My view was that the court was not informed of the full depth of this matter to thus demonstrate the true and full criminality," he said.

"That is why I have applied for increase of the sentence."

The move could be a Queensland first as the Attorney-General ususally makes submissions on inadequate sentences, not the accused person.

Gardner was the central figure in a large-scale "sophisticated and elaborate commercial venture" on a remote former sheep property at Inglewood, from mid-2004 until December, 2008.

The 58-year-old organised family to buy the 2225-hectare property because it had prime grazing land at the front which would "mask the illegal actions" in rocky gullies in the mountainous region behind.

Gardner recruited his young stepchildren, aged 11 to 14, to plant seedlings and tend to thousands of plants when they should have been at school.

He produced eight fields of the drug, ranging from 10m long by 15m wide to 30m by 300m.

All but half of one field had been harvested when police arrested him in mid-2008.

Police still found 22,000 plants and 3.59 tonnes of harvested dried marijuana which was worth $70 million on the black market.

Gardner, an anti-abortion campaigner, had argued at sentence that he believed he recalled his time in his mother's womb and was growing the cannabis to raise funds for a national media campaign against abortions.

Gardner told the Court of Appeal he felt, while the sentencing judge did let him speak for a lengthy period, he was restricted.

"I felt not at liberty to continue," he said.

"I had been heard but I wanted to approach another subject but I was unable to because I realised her Honour did not wish to hear any more."

Justice Cate Holmes told him neither court existed for "you to air your views".

She told Gardner very little of his appeal outline could be considered by the court because it did not explain why his sentence was not in the appropriate sentencing range.

"You might have some luck with the parole board, if you want to convince them you shouldn't get parole," she said.

Gardner replied: "I wouldn't be applying for parole, it would be unethical to do so."

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

Topics:  abortion, cannabis, court of appeal, crime, drugs, jail, marijuana




KILLER SPEED: Coast drivers exceed limit by more than 40km/h

Police in the Maryborough district have caught hundreds of drivers behaving badly in the past two months.

Close to 700 drivers have been caught speeding

Distressed boatie gets helping hand as yacht hits strife

A Gold Coast boatie had to be rescued from his yacht off Arch Cliffs in the early hours of Thursday.

A distressed Gold Coast boatie had to be rescued from his yacht

COOL SNAP: Don't put the winter woolies away just yet

This pooch is warming up during the cool snap on the Fraser Coast.

We can expect a beautiful sunny weekend with chilly minimum temps

Latest deals and offers

Johnny Depp 'deeply respects' Amber Heard

Celebrity

Amber Heard gives away $7 million settlement to charity

The true cost of 60 Minutes debacle revealed

It's a bill that would make even a silk tied barrister blush

Maryborough's little link to Hollywood heart-throb Thor

STAR VISIT: Hollywood heartthrob Chris Hemsworth visits Craig Box and his daughter Violet Box at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane. Craig's family originate from Maryborough.

One little girl was lucky enough to meet the movie star

This year 4 schoolboy outscores Aussies at Pokémon champs

He's now a celebrity in the schoolyard.

Kirk Douglas is defiant, fierce and still standing

VETERAN ACTOR: Kirk Douglas has had a long and varied career.

Kirk Douglas has out-lived almost all his contemporaries

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast