News

Man jailed for anti-abortion pot crop

The crop of 22,000 plants found at Inglewood, near Warwick, in 2008.
The crop of 22,000 plants found at Inglewood, near Warwick, in 2008. Supplied

A FATHER of nine children who claimed he planted one of Australia's largest marijuana crops to fund a nation-wide media campaign against abortion has been jailed for 13 years.

Michael Bennett Gardner Snr was the central figure in a large-scale "sophisticated and elaborate commercial venture" at Inglewood, in the southern Darling Downs, 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.

Brisbane Supreme Court heard he spent a lot of money on infrastructure such as sheds, tractors, sprinklers and 8km of poly piping to set up the operation.

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

He said Gardner had an arsenal of weapons including 10,000 rounds of live ammunition to protect his crops.

Mr Lehane said Gardner was producing marijuana on an "heroic scale" with eight fields of the drug ranging from 10m long by 15m wide to 30m by 300m.

He said 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.

The black market value of what was left amounted to almost $70 million.

The court heard Gardner was still trafficking from inside jail, asking his daughter to sell a recent harvest for $280,000.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said Gardner was involved in producing, packaging and selling the drug for more than four years.

She said Gardner's submissions his actions were "nothing" compared to "the mass slaughter of the unborn" through abortion was misguided.

"Research, particularly the use of cannabis by the vulnerable and the young, has shown our view of cannabis as a relatively harmless drug was misplaced," she said.

"This was an enormous production and trafficking in cannabis controlled and operated by one man.

"Its moral culpability is increased by his involvement of young family members in this criminal enterprise including his young stepchildren.

"The corrupting influence of involving children in activity of that age is well known."

Barrister Greg McGuire said his client 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 he had "no regrets" and he intended to grow as much cannabis "as I possibly could" for his campaign.

"To me it is highly chimerical to live in a culture that permits the killing of its children on a mass scale," he said.

"To me it is the same principle the Nazi regime did to Jewish and other minority groups in the Second World War.

"A person growing cannabis, and peacefully I might add .... in no way comes anywhere near the gravity of the massive slaughter of the unborn of this nation that goes on, on a daily basis.

"I think it is dreadful that I live in such a culture. I think for the law to allow such a thing is an abomination.

"I regard abortion clinics organised gangs of abortion racketeers."

Gardner, who has already served 1423 days in custody, must serve at least 80% of his sentence.

Topics:  abortion 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.

New home opens in Scarness to help people in crisis

HERE TO HELP: Marie Gibbon and Dianne Hancock will be housing people in crisis at Myriam Cottage in Scarness.

Myriam Cottages offers three beds for people in need.

Cr Sanderson hits back at conflict of interest claims

Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting, Maryborough Chambers - Councillor Daniel Sanderson.

Three councillors declared perceived conflicts of interest.

Local Partners

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

Amanda Seyfried lets slip the sex of her baby

Amanda Seyfried has suggested the sex of her baby

Meet the Brisbane breakfast radio king's replacement

Craig Zonca ABC Radio

ABC announces Craig Zonca as the replacement for Spencer Howson

How predictable are your Netflix habits?

Stranger Things is taking the world by storm as a new-age nostalgic Sci-Fi Thriller

The new entertainment binging pattern

Kanye West is on the mend now he's back from hospital

Kanye West is more relaxed since returning home from hospital

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!