A 61-year-old man has been sentenced after police discovered a grow op on his property while responding to a report of shots fired.
Andrew Hutchings pleaded guilty after being charged with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The court heard that Hutchings was alerted to the sounds of a prowler near his Peachland home in January 2011. A man wearing a balaclava and carrying a gun was trying to break in, and took several shots at Hutchings, who retaliated by discharging bear spray and using an air horn in an attempt to dissuade the burglar.
Hutchings was hit by bullet fragments and was bleeding profusely when officers arrived. Upon searching the home, they discovered almost 2000 cloned marijuana plants in the early stages of growth, 20 pounds of dried bud in garbage bags and another 126 grams of marijuana in another room.
Officers followed the bloodstains outside to a bunker type structure where they found another 71 plants.
Hutchings told the court he entered into the illegal business because he had lost his job and needed money after contracting health problems, including Hepatitis C.
Justice Anne Wallace did not look sympathetically upon this rationale, saying it’s an excuse she has heard all too often. When referring to the number of drug possession charges coming through the Kelowna courthouse, she remarked how alarming it is that many people consider it perfectly OK to subsidize their income this way.
It also did not help that Hutchings had a prior criminal record, having previously been busted for possession of marijuana and issued a $500 fine.
However, Justice Wallace did take into account his early guilty plea, age and health concerns and sentenced him to eight months in jail. He was also given a 10-year firearm prohibition and ordered to submit a DNA sample to the National database.