A Corangamite truck driver who used a sophisticated hydroponics set-up to grow cannabis has a $25,000 pecuniary penalty compensation order hanging over his head.
The man, now in his late 50s, was also fined $40,000 after pleading guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to cultivating cannabis for the purposes of trafficking.
A magistrate said it would have been simple task to hand down a suspended jail sentence, but there needed to be a clear message sent to the community that those caught growing cannabis would be disadvantaged financially.
He said the offender had been involved in a substantial operation and the community needed to realise the impact such drug production could have on people with mental health issues.
"This is an industry that needs to be deterred. I think this is one way to deter people," Magistrate Ian von Einem said.
Police executed a search warrant at a Terang house and in a hallway located a locked door, which they forced open.
Officers found the hydroponics set-up including six large plants 1.5cms high.
The operation was described as of a high standard and included lights, a water system, timers and wire supports for the plants which were described as "very healthy".
Another 11 plants, between 30cm and 40cm tall, were found in another room and in the garage there were a further 14 plants up to 90cm tall.
Police also found vacuum packaging equipment and scales.
There were also drying racks in the roof cavity, one pound of cannabis and cameras and surveillance equipment.
There were 31 plants seized by police with a total weight of 5.63 kilograms.
Security camera footage showed the offender entering rooms to water plants.
During a police interview the man claimed it was the first time he had grown the plants.
The court heard that the home, which was being renovated, was using three times the average electricity consumption.
An expert estimated the yield from the plants would be between 1.7kgs and 3.2kgs and the value of the crop was $25,000.
Prosecutor Raeleene Maxwell said a restraining order had been placed on the man's properties until a pecuniary penalty compensation order of $25,000 was paid.
The magistrate said it was clearly a fairly sophisticated set-up, the offender was not a drug user, he had a set-up valued at thousands of dollars and it was hard to resist an inference of what he was going to do with the cannabis - sell it.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.