Gary Martin Casey sentenced in Wagga Local Court after growing 32 marijuana plants on Young property

A Riverina man who grew 27 marijuana plants in his backyard has landed back in court after police found five more plants growing in his vegetable patch. 

Gary Martin Casey, 51, was sentenced to a two-year community correction order after he pleaded guilty to two counts of cultivating illegal drugs. 

Casey first came undone last December when police searched his Young home after concerned neighbours reported seeing some marijuana plants. 

Police then uncovered 27 medium-sized marijuana plants ranging from four to 70 centimetres in height behind his carport with a garden hose sprinkler set up in the middle. 

When they questioned him about the plants, Casey told police he got the seeds “from a mate” a month or so before and was only growing them for personal use.

Police seized all 27 plants, however, they found another five plants ranging from 15 to 90 centimetres in height in the same vegetable patch when they returned to the property in February. 

During that search, police also uncovered approximately 277 grams of marijuana scattered in various locations throughout the house, including the fridge, freezer, laundry cupboard, and outdoor electrical box. 

Casey was arrested and admitted to the police that they had missed some of his marijuana plants during their earlier search.

“The accused stated that when police seized the cannabis plants in December, 2017, they missed some small cannabis plants that were not growing properly beneath some tomato plants,” documents tendered to the court read.

“The accused stated that when police missed these plants, he moved them into a better position in the garden bed where they got more sun, and the plants just took off.” 

During his sentencing hearing in Wagga Local Court on Monday, solicitor David Barron told the court Casey was using the marijuana to manage his pain but had since become drug-free. 

“He’s done very well in becoming drug-free, maintaining his employment, and reaping the benefits in his home life,” Mr Barron said.

“The family said they’ve got a new dad and a new husband – he’s now part of the family instead of hiding from the family.” 

Magistrate Christopher Halburd warned Casey that even possessing the smallest amount of marijuana would breach his sentence and could land him in jail.

“You can’t grow drugs – you can’t grow 27 cannabis plants – that’s very serious,” Mr Halburd said.

“To be clear – having a gram of cannabis will breach that order – if you do that, you’ll come under notice, these will be called up, you’ll be resentenced, and any and all sentencing options will be on the table.”