DPP v Adams [2017] VCC 2999

Conviction for growing cannabis by the applicant at a domestic property. The applicant applies for exclusion from forfeiture saying the property was not tainted or that forfeiture would cause him undue hardship.

Mr and Mrs Adams owned a family home in the suburbs for many years. The police got permission (a Search Warrant) to search the home. When they searched the home, the police found three rooms that contained used equipment used for growing cannabis. The police also found 37kg of cannabis growing at the house.

Mr Adams was prosecuted for growing the cannabis and convicted. After Mr Adams was convicted, the prosecutor asked the Judge to make an order not letting anybody use or sell the house where the cannabis was grown.

The prosecutor wanted to keep the property as it was, so that, if need be, the government could sell the property and use the sale money to pay compensation to any victims of Mr Adams’ crimes. The Judge agreed, based on a list of rules around when the Judge could decide to stop anyone from selling or using Mr Adams’ property.

Mr Adams then asked the Judge not to do this with the house: Mr Adams wanted the house to be "excluded" from any decisions about giving his property to the government.

'Tainted'

The Judge did not agree to Mr Adams' request because, according to the laws about using and selling Mr Adams' property, Mr Adams’ property was 'tainted'. This meant it was not an innocent family home belonging to Mr Adams: it was the place where the crimes were committed, and that meant that the house could be kept for the government in case the government needed to sell the house to pay the victims of those crimes.

The prosecution then wanted to have the house “forfeited”, meaning given up to the government. Mr Adams asked the Court not to do so. Mr Adams had to prove that the property was not ‘tainted’. Alternatively, if he could not prove this, he could ask the Judge to exercise discretion (an option) and not make the Order on the basis that forfeiting the property would cause Mr Adams undue hardship.

The Judge, however, decided Mr Adams had not demonstrated either that the property was not tainted or that forfeiture would cause him undue hardship. The Judge ordered the property should be given up to the government.

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Page last updated: 16 September 2018