| 26.06,09. 04:47 AM |
Girl, 4, lived with drug crop worth $585,000
June 26, 2009 12:00am
FROM the outside it was typical of any house in any Sydney suburb.
But inside, police allege, it was home to a cannabis growing operation - and a four-year-old girl.
The girl was allegedly living in the St Marys house with 172 cannabis plants and dry leaves with an estimated street value of $585,000.
Four rooms of the house were allegedly devoted to the illicit crop, with 42 powerful lamps, a hydroponic system and an illegal power supply used to steal electricity supporting the plants, some up to 1.5 metres tall.
The girl's 26-year-old mother faced Penrith Local Court yesterday charged with several drug offences including the cultivation of a commercial quantity of cannabis, the possession and supply of the drug, stealing electricity to run the hydroponic equipment and exposing a child to the cultivation of the illegal crop.
Police allege the mother and child had been crammed into two small rooms, with one containing children's clothing, toys and medicine. Officers allege the child was put at serious risk as the home contained "numerous lamps, chemicals, cannabis plants and electrical leads, which are all hazards for a young child".
The arrest came after a long-running investigation, with the mother being pulled over by police while driving through Erskine Park just before 8am on Wednesday.
When they opened the car door, police allegedly discovered a "pungent smell of cannabis" before finding numerous irrigation connections and a shower curtain, all with remnants of cannabis on them.
The woman was arrested and driven to her home, where officers allegedly found the plants.
Shocked neighbours said the mother and daughter had lived in the house for about a year, spoke little English and kept to themselves.
One neighbour said there had been signs the woman was up to no good.
"I thought it was queer they never had any furniture, they never put washing on the line and they had lights on all night," the woman said.
The mother sat silently in the dock yesterday. In the gallery her daughter squirmed excitedly when she saw her enter the room, then cried when her mother was led away again.
Magistrate Annette Sinclair granted the woman conditional bail, allowing her to live with her daughter provided she report to police three times a week. She will face court again in August.