5 Dec 2012

SOG pair found guilty of selling drug growing gear

10:53 pm on 5 December 2012

The owner and a manager of the Switched on Gardener retail chain have been found guilty of selling equipment to grow cannabis, but not guilty on a more serious charge.

Five men in various management positions at the hydroponic equipment store each faced 19 charges in a nine-week trial at the Auckland District Court.

The Crown's case was that Switched on Gardener was a one-stop shop for cannabis-growing equipment and owner Michael Quinlan headed the operation.

On Wednesday, the jury found Quinlan guilty of 16 charges of supplying equipment to grow cannabis.

Quinlan's two companies and a manager, Peter Bennett, were found guilty of 17 charges.

However, the jury found the pair not guilty of participating in an organised criminal group.

Three other accused, also managers at the company, were acquitted of all charges.

Quinlan and Bennett's lawyer Paul Davison, QC, says the guilty verdicts show his clients were negligent and not running an organised criminal group.

Mr Davison says the people who worked at the stores had fallen into the situation of speaking openly about cannabis with customers and the jury had to decide whether management had instructed them to do so or were they turning a blind eye to it.

He says it appears from the the verdicts that the jury believed the pair were negligent and ought to have known what was going on.