Father of two funded ‘luxury’ items by supplying drugs
A FATHER who was found to be growing $52,000 worth of cannabis in his Tweed home has avoided jail time.
Behind Scott Robert Vagne's tall, bald profile in Tweed Heads Local Court, his mother and former partner held hands as he was sentenced.
Despite their worry, the 52-year-old walked away from Tweed Heads Local Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two counts of dealing with the proceeds of a crime more than $100,000, supplying cannabis at a commercial quantity, possessing a prohibited drug and cultivating a prohibited plant.
The former Terranora man, who now lives in Byron Bay, was being investigated by police in late 2018 because of his unexplained wealth, the court heard.
Across three search warrants police found the unemployed man had $100,000 in cash, a rare car worth $220,000, $52,000 worth of cannabis plants and about $40,000 in dried cannabis.
During a search of Vagne's Terranora Rd home on December 11 2018, police found an elaborate hydroponic system set up for growing cannabis in one half of the house.
In the rear room and garage there was a sophisticated hydroponic system with numerous tents containing eight large cannabis plants and six smaller plants worth about $52,000.
Each tent had elaborate water systems lights and timers.
Officers also found two large containers hidden in a wardrobe filled with 63 plastic bags of cannabis with a total weight of 2.7kg as well as $20,000 in cash in a bedroom drawer.
Vagne's storage unit in Pottsville was searched the next day to reveal $80,000 in cash and 30 plastic bags filled with a total of 1.8kg of cannabis.
Inside was also a Holden Commodore 2017 HSV GTSR W1 which is one of 300 ever made in Australia worth $220,000.
Defence solicitor John Weller said his client had suffered a back injury in 2002 and turned to using alcohol and cannabis to self medicate.
Mr Weller said Vagne was retrenched in 2014 after his two sons were born and began to worry about what would happen to the family financially.
"As the boys got older and mother had health issues he wanted to accumulate sufficient funding," he said.
"December 2018 was a turning point in his life.
"He was incarcerated for the first time for seven weeks, and you can see from the psychologist and psychiatric reports this has a major impact on him."
The court heard Vagne had since sought counselling for his drug and alcohol use and had corrective back surgery earlier this year.
Police prosecutor Val Short rejected the claim "Vagne was forced down this avenue from poor health and self medication".
She said the "enormity of the wealth he enjoyed from this criminal enterprise" had been used for "luxury items rather than necessities".
Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy imposed a single aggregate sentence for all charges.
Vagne was convicted and sentenced to a three-year intensive corrections order meaning he will serve his prison term in the community.
He also must complete 300 hours of community service.