Elderly Vernon pot grower dodges prison - InfoNews

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Elderly Vernon pot grower dodges prison

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April 23, 2013 - 12:38 PM

An 80-year-old Vernon man has narrowly escaped going to prison after a large scale grow-op was busted at his Falkland property two years ago.

Poor health was his get out of jail card, but he's a long way from being a free man. James Gibson, who has a BA from Simon Fraser University and worked as a probation officer then later a parole officer, faces a year long conditional sentence order served at his Vernon home.

Gibson suffers from diabetes, glaucoma, spinal degeneration and osteoporosis. He also lost his hearing during a three-year stint with the Canadian Air Force. His wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and doctors are testing him for the illness as well. Both consume marijuana to ease the discomfort of their conditions.

The Falkland grow was a family run business, involving Gibson's kids and grandkids. His son, Rob Gibson, was sentenced to 18 months real jail time earlier this year.

Crown counsel Oren Bick wanted Gibson to serve a year behind bars, but Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi wasn't confident the accused would get the care he needs.

"The taking of morphine demonstrates the serious nature of (his) pain," Takahashi said.

Gibson, a tall man with thin, greying hair and glasses, was shaking during his entire court appearance. Seated in the room's front bench, he steadied himself with a cane planted firmly between his knees. A son sat close by with an arm around his shoulders, whispering in his ear as the judge declared his fate.

In Gibson's trial, defense lawyer Marty Johnson said going to jail would be a "death sentence."

Takahashi said a conditional sentence order was on the low end of penalty for such an offense. Because of Gibson's wavering health, and that of his wife, he was lenient.

Gibson will have to provide a sample of his DNA and is restricted from possessing firearms for ten years. A curfew restrains him to his residence from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the sentence.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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