Decision nears for trafficker

THE man behind one of Queensland's biggest drug busts is set for sentencing in June.

Michael Bennett Gardner Snr found himself before the courts after police discovered more than 22,000 marijuana plants at Inglewood, with a wholesale value of $69 million, in 2008.

He was facing trial in Brisbane's Supreme Court last month, but decided to plead guilty to trafficking a dangerous drug part way through proceedings.

The prosecutor had told the jury Gardner and his wife bought a remote grazing property in 2004 and planted marijuana eventually worth $500 million.

He said Gardner made his wife and her three children, out of school, tend the crops, giving them "shut-up money".

The court also heard he killed and tortured the pets of his stepchildren to keep them quiet, and used "intimidation and violence" to keep the operation going.

The court heard an elaborate watering system on the property included dams, pumps and extensive piping and he used lookout towers to view the fields.

Police also found guns, leg shackles, handcuffs, batons, military grade night-vision goggles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

Gardner Snr will be sentenced on June 12.



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