A LaSalle man was convicted this morning of operating a marijuana grow operation in an abandoned barn near Sprague.
The case against Kyle Dufort, 32, was completely circumstantial -- there was no evidence placing him inside the grow op -- but Justice Donald Bryk said he was satisfied of Dufort's guilt based on the prosecution's case.
Dufort, who acted as his own lawyer during the trial, will be sentenced in the fall. He has been out on bail since his arrest in October 2007 and remains out of custody.
The RCMP had placed a Sprague area farm under observation in October 2007 after receiving information that it was consuming an unusually large amount of power.
Court was told Dufort was seen leaving the property on two occasions that month: the first time, he was stopped by police after he ran a stop sign. Court was told there was an over-powering smell of raw marijuana plants in Dufort's car and the officer found a bundle of bamboo sticks -- commonly used in grow ops --and latex gloves with a greenish resin stain similar from that of raw marijuana plants, and two joints.
A few days later, Dufort's car was again seen at the farm property and he was taken into custody after he left.
Dufort's uncle, who owned the property, was originally charged as a co-accused but those charges were dropped in exchange for him pleading guilty to possessing a stolen snowmobile and testifying against Dufort.
Dufort's uncle said the property was an abandoned cattle farm. There was a shed and adjoining large barn and a house. Only Dufort had a key to the house.
Police told court the grow operation required someone to attend to it on a regular basis but they saw no one else at the property while it was under observation except Dufort.
When searching the property after Dufort's arrest, RCMP found a large bag of marijuana leaves and stems in the bedroom of the house.
The barn was padlocked shut and police had to break their way in, where they found a sophisticated hydroponic grow operation with 160 plants.
No evidence was found inside the barn linking to Dufort and while he had a key to the farm house, police did not find any keys to the padlocked barn.
Dufort told police he used the farm property to ride his ATV and knew nothing about the grow op.
Crown counsel Stephen Christie told court the evidence tied Dufort to the charges of possession and trafficking.
Dufort did not testify and did not call any witnesses.
Bryk said Dufort had not countered the evidence presented by Christie, adding he was satisfied of Dufort's guilt.