Two Sunshine Coast men have been jailed after being caught growing almost 400 marijuana plants in a sophisticated hydroponic set-up in the Mary Valley.

Eumundi's Steven John Douglas Best, 48, and Cooroy's Stephen John Halpin, 53, pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court on Thursday to multiple charges of producing and possessing the dangerous drug along and possessing items related to its production and use.

The court heard police seized 49.5kg of marijuana at a Carter's Ridge property, including 18kg of dried leaves.

The two men were growing the drug at a private property at Carters Ridge, south of Gympie.
The two men were growing the drug at a private property at Carters Ridge, south of Gympie.

The wholesale value of the haul totalled about $360,000.

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More than 180 of the plants were at least a metre high.

The court heard the men had established a "sophisticated growing network" on the property, including two houses and multiple sheds and shipping containers.

Best's barrister said his client, who was married with two children, started the plantation after he lost his job.

 

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"He saw it as a means to make money to help him through the time he was unemployed," Best's barrister said.

He had purchased the land as an investment property, the court heard.

Halpin, divorced and with a stepdaughter, had been using oil from the marijuana to treat arthritis caused by a motorcycle accident when he was young.

The pair pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court.
The pair pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court.

Best pleaded guilty to one count of producing a dangerous drug in excess of 500g, one of possessing a dangerous drug in excess of 500g and charges of possessing items in relation to drug offences.

Halpin pleaded guilty to multiple charges including two counts of producing a dangerous drug in excess of 500g, three counts of possessing a dangerous drug in excess of 500g and possessing items in relation to drug offences.

Judge Jennifer Rosengren remanded the pair for sentencing in Brisbane next week.

Another person, who allegedly brought everyone together and supplied the equipment, remains to be sentenced from the four-man operation.

Gympie Times

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