Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

La Salle man convicted of growing marijuana despite shaky case

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A La Salle man was convicted Friday 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 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 overpowering smell of raw marijuana plants in Dufort's car and the officer found a bundle of bamboo sticks -- commonly used in grow-ops -- stained latex gloves and two marijuana 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.

Police told court the grow-op 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 the barn padlocked shut. Police broke their way in and found a sophisticated hydroponic grow operation with 160 plants.

Dufort told police he used the farm property to ride his ATV and knew nothing about the grow-op.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2013 A14

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Updated on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 10:36 AM CDT: photo removed

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