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Drug bust: Guilty plea

A search for drugs at a South Wairarapa builder’s home turned up more than 100 cannabis plants and a firearm, Masterton District Court was told yesterday.

The cannabis plants at Justin Rankin’s home had a potential street value of more than $300,000 police prosecutor Sergeant Tom Andrews said.

Rankin, 30, from Tauherenikau, pleaded guilty to a charge of cultivating cannabis and a charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm.

Wairarapa police executed a search warrant at Rankin’s four-bedroom home on a large semi-rural section last October 27, Mr Andrews told the court.

There was a large standalone garage at the end of the driveway, as well as a second out-building.

During the search, police found a large cannabis growing operation in a purpose-built room at the rear of the garage.

Inside the room, the walls were lined with polythene, there were glow lamps set up, irrigation and ventilation systems, and numerous bottles of plant fertiliser.

There were 78 semi-mature cannabis plants planted in plastic pots, ranging in size from abut 40cm to 1m high.

In the second out-building, police discovered two more purpose-built grow rooms, also lined with polythene, and decked out with glow lamps, irrigation and ventilation systems.

These two rooms housed 46 cannabis seedlings. A total of 124 plants were seized.

Mr Andrews said if the plants were grown to maturity and sold in ounces, they would be worth between $295,5000 to $344,750.

Police found a Ruger 0.22 calibre rifle wrapped in a blanket and stored behind the bed when they searched Rankin’s bedroom.

Twenty-four rounds of 0.22 ammunition and two empty 0.22 magazines, capable of holding 25 rounds each, were found in the garage.

The prosecutor said Rankin had never held a firearms licence and had no lawful purpose for possessing it.

The defendant previously told the prosecution he was responsible for the cannabis growing operation, but the rifle had belonged to a friend.

Judge Tony Walsh convicted Rankin, remanding him on bail until his next court appearance in March.

The defendant was to abide by his bail conditions, which was to reside at a new Wellington address, report to probation and not to consume drugs.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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