Court briefs – May 1

A man who claims he grew 29 marijuana plants for personal use to ease the pain of a back injury received a conditional sentence in Red Deer court Thursday.

Drugs lead to community sentence

A man who claims he grew 29 marijuana plants for personal use to ease the pain of a back injury received a conditional sentence in Red Deer court Thursday.

Joshua Voss, 25, of Red Deer was sentenced to six months in a community-based sentence, which will see him serve three months under house arrest after pleading guilty to producing marijuana and “weed oil.”

Voss’s rented residence in Sylvan Lake was busted by RCMP acting on a search warrant on Jan. 29.

Police discovered 29 marijuana plants each about a metre tall and worth an estimated $30,000 if sold on a year’s basis in small amounts, police estimated at the time of the bust.

The weed oil was distilled from the left over marijuana plant material including leaves.

RCMP also discovered hydroponic growing equipment worth between $3,000 to $4,000, federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis told court.

A charge of production of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking was withdrawn.

Following the house arrest, Voss will be subject to a curfew. He can only leave his residence for a period of five hours a week to obtain the necessities of life.

He’s also prohibited from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition for 10 years and was fined $200.

Defence lawyer Kevin Schollie told Judge Bert Skinner his client used the marijuana to ease the pain of a back injury suffered as a heavy duty mechanic.

He said Voss tried prescribed prescription drugs but didn’t enjoy them or their results.

Schollie said Voss gained relief from the marijuana and not from the prescribed drugs.

Murder preliminary hearing starts

A two-day murder preliminary hearing for a Red Deer man charged in a stabbing death last summer started Thursday.

Blair Andrew Neill, 41, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nathan Casey, 27, last Aug. 26.

Crown prosecutor Jason Snider intended to call four witnesses for the preliminary, which is subject to a publication ban on all evidence heard during the hearing in provincial court.

Neill, who has been in custody since his arrest, also suffered an injury in the incident, police said earlier.

Police and emergency personnel were called about 1 a.m. to an altercation in a 4700 block apartment on 54th Street in downtown Red Deer and found the accused with a wound. He was taken to hospital.

A short time later police received another call that a man suffering a stab wound was located in a vehicle about a block away from the apartment.

Police found Casey, who had recently moved to Red Deer from the Maritimes, with a fatal wound.

A preliminary is held to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant the accused stand trial by a judge and jury in Court of Queen’s Bench.

Neill is being defended by Red Deer lawyer Lorne Goddard.

Trial in alleged sexual assaults set

An Alix man charged with two sexual assaults will have a trial this fall.

Ian Thomas Sheppard, 29, will be tried Oct. 30 in Stettler provincial court, it was determined Wednesday. The assaults are alleged to have occurred in late 2007 and 2008, RCMP said earlier.

Sheppard was arrested in Guelph, Ont., on a Canada-wide warrant where he was working and escorted back to Alberta. The accused remains in custody.

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