Pet and garden center operator who used store equipment to run ‘sophisticated’ cannabis ring is being held at home

Kane and Joanna McNeill, of Pet and Garden Supplies (which is rebranding as HydroGarden), in Christchurch District Court after an earlier appearance.  Kane was back in court on Tuesday after charges against Joanna were dropped.

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Kane and Joanna McNeill, of Pet and Garden Supplies (which is rebranding as HydroGarden), in Christchurch District Court after an earlier appearance. Kane was back in court on Tuesday after charges against Joanna were dropped.

A pet and garden supply store operator who used his horticultural expertise and the store’s equipment to run a “sophisticated” cannabis ring will serve seven months of house arrest.

Kane McNeill, 31, was among five people arrested in June 2020 for growing and supplying cannabis after police seized around 200 plants and froze assets – including residential and commercial properties, vehicles, jet skis , a trailer and cash – worth over $2.5 million.

He appeared before Judge Michael Crosbie in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday on three counts of possession, supply and cultivation of cannabis.

In a letter to the court, McNeill said he was “ashamed” of his actions and had “completely changed my life” by distancing himself from bad influences and former associates, and vowed to continue to do so. to do with the expected birth of her first child in the near future.

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While noting the seriousness of McNeill’s offense, Crown prosecutor Courtney Martyn acknowledged that he had “done everything he could to rehabilitate himself” from his cannabis addiction and his offenses since his first arrest. in 2020.

Defense attorney Kerry Cook argued that McNeill showed insight into his offense and acknowledged its seriousness. Negative drug tests submitted to court in December and last week showed his commitment to staying on a clean path. This was accepted by all parties.

Kane McNeill used his horticultural expertise and Pet & Garden Supplies equipment to establish a sophisticated cannabis network.  (File photo)

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

Kane McNeill used his horticultural expertise and Pet & Garden Supplies equipment to establish a sophisticated cannabis network. (File photo)

On May 27, 2020, a large cannabis crop was discovered by police following a search warrant at a property in Ferry Rd, where pet and gardening equipment was found. McNeill was observed visiting the property multiple times by police, according to court documents.

On June 16, 2020, a small grow operation was found at an address in Simeon St and was found to be run by a friend of McNeill’s. McNeill gave his friend seedlings, equipment and advice on how to properly manage the crop to ensure it thrives.

McNeill and his associates would leave varying amounts of cannabis in mailboxes or drop them off at properties in exchange for money, the court heard. When police raided his address, several cannabis plants were found in varying stages of maturity.

Through his attorney Kerry Cook, McNeill suggested he could use his horticultural expertise to benefit the community in the future.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Michael Crosbie said the “relatively sophisticated operation” was formed by McNeill’s own addiction to cannabis and turned into a sale to others.

McNeill could be seen nodding in agreement in the dock as the judge said he had no control over who received his cannabis once it left his hands, and that he would have could easily end up with “young and impressionable people”.

Judge Crosbie acknowledged that he had taken significant steps to prevent himself from reoffending or relapsing and sentenced him to seven months house arrest, with the possibility of it becoming a mid-term community supervision sentence. journey.

McNeill and his mother Joanna operate pet and garden supplies, which were among several properties searched as part of the police investigation in 2020.

Joanna owned 99% of the business, according to court documents.

Shortly after his arrest in June 2020, McNeill told Stuff he was “shocked” when police knocked loudly on the door of his home and told him they had a search warrant.

He had no idea he had been under surveillance for weeks.

“They think I’m selling heaps of weed… and making a lot of money, but I’m not,” he said. Thing a week after the arrest.