Drugs accused 'guilty'

A SECLUDED property at Inglewood sheltered more than 20,000 cannabis plants and an arsenal of weapons - until it was discovered in 2008.

The man behind the operation, Michael Bennett Gardner Snr, yesterday pleaded guilty to six charges relating to one of Australia's biggest drug busts.

Gardner Snr initially pleaded not guilty but after day one of the trial at Brisbane Magistrates Court he about-turned and told Justice Ros Atkinson he wanted to plead guilty.

The charges included trafficking, producing and possessing dangerous drugs and perjury.

Gardner Snr was representing himself but the court heard he will be represented by barrister Greg McGuire at his sentence hearing.

A date for that hearing will be set down April 3.

Prosecutor Michael Lehane previously told the court police found 22,000 plants with a wholesale value of $69 million in fenced-off paddocks when they raided the property which had been purchased by Gardner Snr in 2004.

Mr Lehane also told the court Gardner's wife and her three children were forced to tend the crops and "intimidation and violence" was used to keep the operation going.

The court heard pumps, dams, water tanks and piping had been set up across the property to water the crop and lookout towers were in place.

Mr Lehane said police also found a weapons armoury with guns, leg shackles, handcuffs, extendable batons, military grade night-vision goggles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

The Daily News will have more after April 3.


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