Drugs found in fireproof bunker after house burns

AN UNDERGROUND bunker built for protection from fires has landed a Kremnos man in jail after police investigating a bushfire found it contained a complex hydroponic cannabis operation.

Chris Jewell, 69, was sentenced to three years jail with a non-parole period of 18 months at District Court in Grafton on Thursday over charges of cultivation of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and supply of a prohibited drug.

Investigators chanced upon the buried shipping container during an inspection of fire-damaged dwellings on August 4 last year, after a huge bushfire at Kremnos destroyed five homes in the area.

Mr Jewell's residence on McGills Rd was one of the houses destroyed.

While assessing the damage, police traced a length of electrical wire that ran from the charred home, along a walking track to a steel hatch in the ground.

It opened to reveal the hydroponic operation.

A total of 116 plants and cultivation equipment were removed from the bunker.

More than one kilo of loose cannabis and two other marijuana plants were also found in a superficially damaged shed on the property.

Court documents revealed that on presentation of a warrant to search the premises on the morning of August 5, Mr Jewell freely admitted he was the owner of the property and was growing cannabis in the container.

Ironically, he stated the shipping container was initially buried on the property as a defence against bushfires, and that he had recently converted it to enable him to cultivate marijuana.

He told police it was his first crop and he anticipated it would last a couple of years.

Mr Jewell's earliest release date is December 3, 2016.



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