Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lotto dope grower wins again


A first division Lotto winner has won his fight to keep a lifestyle block he bought with the winnings - and then used to grow 116 cannabis plants.

Mellish, 50, won $430,000 on Lotto and used the proceeds to buy a Northland property, on which he later grew drugs.

He was ordered to forfeit the 10-acre lifestyle block as part of his punishment. But his lucky streak has continued after the Court of Appeal ruled he could keep the property.

In 2001, Cooksley-Mellish spent his winnings on the dream property – but, six months later, a police raid at the address found thirteen 20-litre buckets full of cannabis, worth $47,000.

This was the product of 116 plants grown in a shade house he bought for that purpose. A sawn-off shotgun was also found.

Cooksley-Mellish, who maintained the cannabis was for his own use as pain relief, was jailed for two years.

An order for confiscation of the "tainted property" was made after Judge Michael Lance, QC, decided that no undue hardship would be caused by doing so. It would merely put Cooksley-Mellish "back in the same position he was and would have been but for his stroke of luck".

But the Court of Appeal overruled the judgment, saying there was no prospect of Cooksley-Mellish ever being able to own a property again if the lifestyle block was confiscated.

He had been unable to work since 1987, after a tree fell on him, injuring his back. "The impact of forfeiture on the appellant, 50-years-old and disabled, will be dire indeed."

By Sophie Neville


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