Man refused bail over $700k crop

JOHN Darren Bailes of Wardell was refused bail and committed for sentencing in the Lismore Local Court this week after being found guilty of cultivating almost $700,000 worth of hydroponic cannabis. Bailes, 39, and his 26-year-old female partner, Dale Widdows, were arrested in June after officers attached to the Richmond Target Action Group raided their rural property on Pimlico Rd at Wardell. During the early morning raid, police seized 336 cannabis plants, 21kg of dried cannabis and growing equipment from a number of indoor hydroponic growing rooms, as well as illegal weapons including a sword, a flick knife, an expandable baton and a set of knuckle dusters.

Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Greg Moore, said police found an elaborate and extensive hydroponic set-up in a house and number of sheds on the property. Bailes was charged with cultivation, supply, possession and use of a prohibited drug, possession of weapons without permits as well as electricity theft and illegal interference of the power supply. Det Insp Moore said one of the sheds was actually humming from the dodgy electricity hook-up which he described at the time as extremely dangerous. An electrician was required to safely isolate the set-up.

Due to the size of the seizure, the bulk of the cannabis was destroyed on-site and police believed the raid significantly impacted local supply. Bailes will be sentenced in Lismore Local Court in February while Widdows, who was granted bail, will be sentenced for possession and knowingly taking part in the cultivation and supply of cannabis.

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