News

Man jailed for anti-abortion pot crop

The crop of 22,000 plants found at Inglewood, near Warwick, in 2008.
The crop of 22,000 plants found at Inglewood, near Warwick, in 2008. Supplied

A FATHER of nine children who claimed he planted one of Australia's largest marijuana crops to fund a nation-wide media campaign against abortion has been jailed for 13 years.

Michael Bennett Gardner Snr was the central figure in a large-scale "sophisticated and elaborate commercial venture" at Inglewood, in the southern Darling Downs, from mid-2004 until December, 2008.

The 58-year-old organised family to buy the 2225-hectare property because it had prime grazing land at the front which would "mask the illegal actions" in rocky gullies in the mountainous region behind.

Brisbane Supreme Court heard he spent a lot of money on infrastructure such as sheds, tractors, sprinklers and 8km of poly piping to set up the operation.

Crown prosecutor Michael Lehane said Gardner recruited his young stepchildren, aged 11-14, to plant seedlings and tend to thousands of plants when they should have been at school.

He said Gardner had an arsenal of weapons including 10,000 rounds of live ammunition to protect his crops.

Mr Lehane said Gardner was producing marijuana on an "heroic scale" with eight fields of the drug ranging from 10m long by 15m wide to 30m by 300m.

He said all but half of one field had been harvested when police arrested him in mid-2008.

Police still found 22,000 plants and 3.59 tonnes of harvested dried marijuana.

The black market value of what was left amounted to almost $70 million.

The court heard Gardner was still trafficking from inside jail, asking his daughter to sell a recent harvest for $280,000.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said Gardner was involved in producing, packaging and selling the drug for more than four years.

She said Gardner's submissions his actions were "nothing" compared to "the mass slaughter of the unborn" through abortion was misguided.

"Research, particularly the use of cannabis by the vulnerable and the young, has shown our view of cannabis as a relatively harmless drug was misplaced," she said.

"This was an enormous production and trafficking in cannabis controlled and operated by one man.

"Its moral culpability is increased by his involvement of young family members in this criminal enterprise including his young stepchildren.

"The corrupting influence of involving children in activity of that age is well known."

Barrister Greg McGuire said his client believed he recalled his time in his mother's womb and was growing the cannabis to raise funds for a national media campaign against abortions.

Gardner told the court he had "no regrets" and he intended to grow as much cannabis "as I possibly could" for his campaign.

"To me it is highly chimerical to live in a culture that permits the killing of its children on a mass scale," he said.

"To me it is the same principle the Nazi regime did to Jewish and other minority groups in the Second World War.

"A person growing cannabis, and peacefully I might add .... in no way comes anywhere near the gravity of the massive slaughter of the unborn of this nation that goes on, on a daily basis.

"I think it is dreadful that I live in such a culture. I think for the law to allow such a thing is an abomination.

"I regard abortion clinics organised gangs of abortion racketeers."

Gardner, who has already served 1423 days in custody, must serve at least 80% of his sentence.

Topics:  abortion jail marijuana



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Businesses challenged to find 100 youth jobs by Christmas

NUMBER ONE: Jhina Sutton has started work at Darryl Evans Real Estate. Mr Evans wants Warwick to find 100 jobs for unemployed youth by Christmas.

This Christmas a Warwick businessman has a challenge for businesses

Paramedics clear scene of highway truck rollover

ROLLOVER: A semi-trailed rolled into a ditch heading south on the Cunningham Hwy at Cunningham's Gap, Tarome this morning.

Driver uninjured in highway crash

Warwick business owners are taking the challenge

No Caption

A couple of Warwick businesses are already right behind the plan.

Local Partners

Businesses challenged to find 100 youth jobs by Christmas

IN THIS, the season of giving, a businessman is challenging business leaders to deliver 100 jobs to unemployed young people for Christmas.


Don't miss the free Bunnings Christmas party

Free Bunnings Christmas Family Night

WARWICK'S Bunnings Warehouse will come alive tonight for Xmas

Rose City unites in festive event

Erin and Keely Hilton.

Local performers entertain at Carols in the Park

Safe fun in the water at WIRAC

SWIM STAR: Zac Sorenson having a ball at the GH Foundation Warwick Aquatic Participation Day for adults with a disability.

WIRAC is holding a GH Foundation Aquatic Participation Day today

Amy Schumer thanks Barbie trolls for hateful comments

Amy Schumer is in the lead role for the new Barbie movie

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing for destroyed sex life

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing her former manager

Azealia Banks' battery case against Russell Crowe dropped

Russell Crowe will not be charged with battery

Mel Gibson named Best Director at AACTA Awards

Mel Gibson poses in the media room after winning the AACTA Award for Best Direction for Hacksaw Ridge.

HIS wartime drama Hacksaw Ridge sweeps 6th annual awards in Sydney.

Mark Hamill unaware his co-stars were romantically involved

Hamill too "self-involved" at the time to notice, he said

ABC's Fresh Blood graduates are a Skit Box full of laughs

Sarah Bishop, Greta Lee Jackson and Adele Vuko in a scene from the TV series Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am.

ALL-female comedy trio hitting the mark with new sketch show.

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

All I want for Xmas is a property bargain

$259,000, 13 Guy Street, Warwick. A block from Warwick's CBD, this graceful character home has three bedrooms and a study.

Ring in Christmas with one of these property bargains under $300,000

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!