Anti-abortion campaigner appealing marijuana sentence

A FATHER of nine children who planted one of Australia's largest marijuana crops is today appealing his 13-year jail sentence.

Michael Bennett Gardner Snr was the central figure in a large-scale "sophisticated and elaborate commercial venture" on a remote former sheep property at Inglewood, 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.

Gardner was producing marijuana in eight fields ranging from 10m long by 15m wide to 30m by 300m.

All but half of one field had been harvested when police arrested him in 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.

Gardner, who had already served 1023 days in custody when he was sentenced in June, was ordered to serve at least 80% of his sentence.

He is expected to represent himself when he appeals the sentence in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane today.

Gardner called Justice Roslyn Atkinson a "tyrant" after she handed down the 13-year jail sentence in June.

He claimed he grew the crops because he wanted to fund a nationwide media campaign against abortion.



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