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(AUS) Farmer throws away 87 kilos of dope

A FORMER Tableland tobacco farmer who turned his hand to growing marijuana for his personal use did it so well he had to toss most of it out, a Cairns court was told yesterday.

As evidence that Anthony Bambino’s massive crop had not been intended for commercial sale, his barrister Jim Henry told the Cairns Supreme Court the Mutchilba farmer had left the lucrative “heads” on about 87kg of excess plants he had dumped in a paddock.

“This wasn’t just a matter of

disposing of culled stems, these were entire plants and they included heads,… an extraordinary disposition if you’re in it for commercial purposes,” Mr Henry said.

Bambino, 44, who has pleaded guilty to possessing a dangerous drug and items used in connection with a crime, was also found with 47 neat 500g vacuum-sealed bags of cannabis.

The cannabis had been stashed in a large Esky in an old tobacco shed on his Campbell Rd farm and was found by police during a search on May 14 last year.

Police also found a vacuum-packaging machine and a padlocked drying room with industrial fans and lights as well as hanging hooks for drying.

Crown prosecutor Bob English described the well-run, large-scale operation as “professional to a degree but still a farm crop”.

Mr Henry said Bambino, a married father-of-three who was highly respected in his community for his volunteer work with the rural fire brigade, the local school and helping fellow farmers, turned to cannabis in 2007 to dull the pain of a serious heart condition.

Before a bypass operation in Brisbane at the end of that year, he had thrown some seeds into the ground and on his return to the farm some months later, found them to be growing well, so fertilised and tended them until about 60 plants were ready to be harvested.

The drying shed with hanging hooks as well as the packaging machine had been used by Mr Bambino’s Italian family for generations to make and cure salamis and was easily converted to dry and package the marijuana, Mr Henry said.

However, he said that after packaging up enough bags to fill an Esky, Bambino threw the rest away.

Justice Stanley Jones released Bambino on bail and reserved his judgment until Wednesday.
Margo Zlotkowski

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