‘Ringleader’ jailed after cannabis worth $500k found in student flat


The Dunedin property was found with more than 350 plants and had the potential to produce more than $475,000 worth of cannabis.

Katarzyna Białasiewicz/Stuff

The Dunedin property was found with more than 350 plants and had the potential to produce more than $475,000 worth of cannabis.

A man whose ounce-a-day cannabis habit left him unemployed for 10 years helped set up a large drug-growing operation in Dunedin’s student quarter.

Quintin Frances Corkery appeared for sentence on three cannabis related charges before Judge Michael Turner in the Dunedin District Court on Wednesday.

The Union St property was found with more than 350 plants and had the potential to produce more than $475,000 worth of cannabis.

The police summary of facts named Corkery as the leader of the sophisticated commercial operation.

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His offending in supplying cannabis outweighed him growing cannabis for his own personal use, Crown prosecutor Richard Smith said.

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The 36-year-old was a heavy cannabis user who was unable to hold down a job for a decade, he told the court.

A report noted Corkery’s risk of reoffending would increase unless he addressed his drug addiction, estimated at being an ounce a day.

His lawyer, Anne Stevens QC, said her client was known for expertise in growing cannabis, and was approached by a co-accused to help with the Union St operation.

Since being remanded in custody Corkery had been cannabis-free – the first time since adolescence, Stevens said.

‘’His head is clear,’’ she said.

His talents for horticulture could be put to better use once released, but until then he needed treatment for his addiction.

‘’It was a long road for him.’’

His co-accused, Dylan Pattison, 26, was sentenced to two years and four months, while Michael Kinraid was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and 300 hours of community work.

Judge Turner said the ‘’large scale’’ cannabis operation had previously been tenanted by Corkery, and he and two associates, including property manager Kinraid, helped in the operation.

Every bedroom in the Union St flat was kitted out as a hi-tech grow room, with air-ventilation ducting systems, carbon filters and fans.

Hamish McNeilly/Stuff

Every bedroom in the Union St flat was kitted out as a hi-tech grow room, with air-ventilation ducting systems, carbon filters and fans.

The four-bedroom flat was rented in March 2020 for $400 a week, with police on their trail less a month later.

Corkery sold some 24 ounces of cannabis from the property.

By winter, police had warrants to search the flat, revealing the extent of the offending.

Every bedroom was kitted out as a hi-tech grow room, with air-ventilation ducting systems, carbon filters and fans.

The roof space was even used to germinate seeds.

The court also heard Corkery had set up another cannabis operation, this time in Sidey St, Corstorphine, with the estimated haul being just over $40,000.

Turner noted Corkery’s previous convictions relating to cannabis-related offending.

He was jailed for three years and six months.



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