'Redemption story' still there for drug offender

POLICE picked up on the nervous behaviour of two men while executing a search warrant on their Redbank Plains address in search of another person and changed their focus.

On behalf of the Crown, legal officer Chantel Phillips said police searched the address of Thomas Gary Hohepa Mead, 31, and Dustin Jade Lynton Te Awa, 27. The officers found more than they initially bargained for while executing a emergent search on March 20 last year.

Officers discovered 11 mature cannabis plants at a total weight of 976 grams when the roots had been removed, which had been grown by the duo using a "semi-sophisticated" hydroponic set-up. Chemicals and pipes were also found.

They told police they used it for pain relief. For Mead it was for his mother and himself and for Te Awa to help with an injury sustained in a traffic accident in 2016.

The pair both pleaded guilty to charges of producing dangerous drugs, possessing anything used in the commission of crime and possessing utensils or pipes that had been used in Ipswich District Court.

While Te Awa had no relevant criminal offences, Mead had a longer list including convictions for drug offences.

Defence barrister Geoffrey Seaholme said Mead was training to be a youth worker and studied full time while being the carer for his twin 10-year-old sons. His mother had been living with him, and using cannabis to treat chronic pain but had since moved back to New Zealand.

The court heard he had been a cannabis user since 18 but it was the first time he had ever grown the drug.

Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said Te Awa used the cannabis as pain relief as codeine was no longer effective for a long-standing whiplash injury.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC noted Mead's criminal history and said if he continued to offend, his "redemption story" to become a youth worker would be diminished.

"Drug users who resort to growing their own need to know this is very serious," he said.

Mead was sentenced to three months in prison, immediately suspended for nine months and Te Awa was placed on a 12 month probation order.