SUMMERSIDE — It was what the judge called large-scale marijuana grow operation, one that earned a 41-year-old Richmond man a 12-month jail sentence.
Prince County Courthouse.
James George Phillips has been behind bars since the Prince District Joint Forces Drug Unit dismantled his home-based operation on Sept. 6.
Phillips was brought into Summerside provincial court Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to growing marijuana. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated impaired driving charge.
“He made a major mistake by deciding to grow weed,” said Phillip’s lawyer Trish Cheverie. “He is disappointed in himself.”
The court heard that, acting on confidential source information and surveillance, the drug unit, using a warrant obtained under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, searched Phillips’ Richmond home on Sept. 6.
In the basement, marijuana was being grown in two rooms, with 72 of the 78 plants found inside days away from being harvested.
Also inside, there were heat lamps, fertilizer, a digital scale, documents detailing how to grow marijuana, two cellphones and $580 in cash.
Outside the home, near a camper trailer, police found 91 plants, all in pots, and in the back woods they found 254 plants, some in pots and others planted in the ground. In total, 463 marijuana plants were discovered.
Upon his arrest, Phillips immediately admitted he was the only one living in the home and that the plants were his. Throughout the investigation, he was fully co-operative with police.
A joint sentencing submission of 12 months in jail was requested.
In relation to the impaired driving charge, Phillips was found behind the wheel of his truck on a road outside of Kensington in the early-morning hours of Nov. 10, 2012. After showing visible signs of impairment, he provided two breath samples — 150 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and 140.
He was jailed and released the next afternoon.
Phillips had several related convictions on what was an extensive record.
Cheverie said her client had been doing well since last being released from jail, noting he had gotten an oyster license and bought a small home.
That was until he started growing pot.
“It was a stupid idea,” she added.
Judge Jeff Lantz agreed with the sentencing recommendation on the drug charge.
On the impaired charge, Phillips was sentenced to a consecutive 50 days behind bars minus 30 days credited for time served since his arrest.
Once out of jail, Phillips will be on probation for 18 months, during which time he must undergo assessment, counselling and treatment for any addictions issues.
He is also prohibited, for life, from owning or possessing any firearms or weapons.