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



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Fraser Coast has global appeal as visitor numbers soar

Patrick Janke from Germany is one of many international travellers who has chosen to visit Fraser Coast on his journey.

Overseas visitor numbers are up 4%.

BAUPLE: Residents say 'bring back the business climate'

Marc Bromet with daughter Yolande, outside the Bauple Macadamia House.

Marc and Yolande Bromet discuss how to put Bauple back on the map.

Brisbane Lions to return to the Fraser Coast in 2017

Brisbane Lions at Seafront Oval - Lions players (L) Rohan Bewick, Tom Bell and Ben Keays with (L) Balin, Jet and Kirra Whitford and Taj Peek. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle

The Brisbane Lions return to the Fraser Coast in February.

Local Partners

BOOK REVIEW: The Mask of Command

This narrative from Anicent Rome has it all

The tech-version of the old pop-up book is here

IS THE old cardboard pop-up book a thing of the past?

Obama's private struggle laid bare in film

Australian actor Devon Terrell portrays a young Barack Obama in the Netflix original movie Barry. Supplied by Netflix.

Filmakers focus in on Obama's legacy

Brad Pitt's sons won't see him

Brad Pitt's eldest sons are reportedly "refusing" to see him.

Chris Pratt fell asleep while babysitting

Chris Pratt revealed he fell asleep during babysitting duties

Kylie Minogue: I want to get married soon

Pop star Kylie Minogue has revealed she hopes to get married soon

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Couple's desperate $550K price drop to sell Gladstone home

Brian Headley and Kirstene Staib are selling their Kin Kora mansion for $750,000.

TELL tale sign of Gladstone's property market.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!