Police pursuit uncovers drug crop
A BAY of Plenty man who grew dozens of cannabis plants near a police station was busted only when an officer hunting an escaped prisoner went on to his property.
Jonathan Richard Mendoza, 47, was caught red-handed with 54 individually potted cannabis plants in his garage near Greerton police station.
The officer had gone on to Mendoza's property looking for an offender who had escaped from the station on December 14.
Mendoza was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to cultivating cannabis.
Defence lawyer Andrew Blair said his client maintained the cannabis was for personal use.
But Judge Thomas Ingram rejected this and described the growing operation as a "reasonably sophisticated commercial operation".
"Your claim that the cannabis was all for personal use is nonsense. I don't accept that in the slightest, as you never would be able to use all the cannabis [harvest] yourself," he told Mendoza.
The judge sentenced Mendoza to six months' community detention and nine months' supervision.