FOUND: Court told of sophisticated automated marijuana patch in the Toolara State Forest
FOUND: Court told of sophisticated automated marijuana patch in the Toolara State Forest Maryborough Police

Hi-tech drug farm in Toolara forestry, court told

A GYMPIE man, 72, has been fined $3500 for running what was described as a sophisticated, solar powered and automated marijuana operation in Toolara forest.

Barry James Murphy pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court on Thursday to possessing 1.27kg of marijuana at his home on October 7 last year, 3.74kg of marijuana plants in Toolara Forest and two solar panels, a battery, chemicals and other equipment between April 1 and October 7.

He also admitted to four Forestry Act breaches between March 31 and October 7 - unlawfully misusing water and herbicide, clearing scrub for cultivation and misusing a forest product (cutting down a she-oak and ring barking a large bloodwood tree).

Crown prosecutor Ron Swanwick told the court police found marijuana growing on the southern bank of Sandy Creek on July 14 last year.

Returning later they saw Murphy arrive to tend the crop and traced his registration plate to his home.

There was no indication of commercial use but Murphy had "as sophisticated system with a solar panel and water system” and an "automated” system to turn taps on and off to raised sprinkler heads.

This had been "done by violating a state forest.”

Solicitor Chris Anderson said Murphy grew for his own use for pain relief, with 1kg likely to last him a year.

He was a pensioner and would have some trouble paying a fine. and wanted to travel, so would suffer if a conviction was recorded.

Judge Leanne Clare recorded the conviction, saying it was hard to see how Murphy would travel if he would have trouble paying a fine.

She also said his concern did not outweigh the criminality of his conduct, which needed to be discouraged.