CANNABIS PRODUCTION: A sophisticated hydroponic set-up was discovered on Wesley John Figura’s property.
CANNABIS PRODUCTION: A sophisticated hydroponic set-up was discovered on Wesley John Figura’s property. Contributed

Why judge says he can't jail drug grower

A PLAN to become a drug dealer backfired for a Chuwar man - but he won't be going to jail for it.

Wesley John Figura, 34, was caught by police growing cannabis in a purpose built "grow room" under his house, and in the process of building a second room.

However, Judge Greg Koppenol said the fact the Court of Appeal had overturned a number of more serious drug offenders' jail terms meant it did not matter if he or the community thought Figura should be imprisoned.


> > Council to host forum to keep area free of "catastrophic" CSG

> > $10m promised by Gillard is green light for Ipswich flood work

On November 9 last year police executed a search warrant on Figura's Chuwar property and found two hidden rooms underneath the house.

One had been converted into a sophisticated "grow room" while the other was in the process of being converted.

Inside the completed room police found three cannabis plants, all over one metre tall, more than 150g of leafy material and a green cardboard sheet.

Figura denied knowing how the cardboard got into his house. It was tested and found to contain the drug 25I-NBOMe, an LSD-like psychedelic known as 25I or N-Bomb.

The room contained a sophisticated hydroponic set up including heat lamps, humidifiers, an air-conditioning system and a watering system.

The second room was not yet constructed but equipment to build it was found nearby.

Figura pleaded guilty in Ipswich District Court to producing dangerous drugs in excess of 500 grams, two counts of possessing dangerous drugs and possessing items used to produce dangerous drugs.

Figura told police while he had not sold any of cannabis yet, he was broke and unemployed and needed the money.

He told police he had found the sophisticated hydroponic material - a claim Judge Koppenol rejected.

The court heard Figura's partner and children were oblivious to the drug operation going on beneath their feet.


> > Prison for home invasion and assault at sister-in-law's house

> > Child exploitation material found at Ebbw Vale house: Police

Judge Greg Koppenol said commercial intent would normally be reason enough to jail a drug grower. However, defence lawyer Scott Neaves presented him with a number of Court of Appeal decisions showing more serious offenders had been released without serving time on appeal.

"Regardless of my view and regardless of what the community thinks the Court of Appeal has made it clear it would be an appealable error," Judge Koppenol said. "That might surprise a lot of people in the community."

Figura was sentenced to 12 months prison, wholly suspended for two years. The drugs and property were forfeited to the Crown and a serious drug offence declaration was made.