Grow-op gardeners harvest house arrest

Olalla couple sentenced for their role in a substantial Naramata grow operation

An Olalla couple has pled guilty to the cultivation of a controlled substance in what Crown counsel called a substantial marijuana grow operation.

“This was one of the larger grow-ops police have located and investigated in the South Okanagan,” said Crown counsel Tyrone Duerr. “They are the pruners or clippers, but having said that, they are a necessary part of the operation. Without them, it wouldn’t be harvested and get to the street.”

Michael Young and Karen Stapleton, who were essentially the gardeners clipping buds off marijuana plants, were arrested by RCMP on July 30, 2009 at a Naramata residence where the grow operation was discovered.

“During the search of the residence and outbuilding, police discovered a passageway leading to an extremely sophisticated bunker-style marijuana grow operation built underground beneath the concrete patio of the residence,” Const. John Livingstone said in a media release at the time.

Young, who had a prior record for production of an illegal substance, received 18 months house arrest, with the final six months to be served under a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and 120 hours of community service work. Stapleton was sentenced to 12 months of house arrest, with the last six months to be served under a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and 50 hours of community service.

“You are old enough to know better,” Judge Gale Sinclair told the couple who are in their 50s.

Crown counsel told the court that on July 30, 2009w police arrived at the Naramata residence of Anthony and Jacqueline Prowse. They found the Olalla couple in the garage and seized 560 marijuana plants and 49 pounds of cultivated marijuana. A total of $11,000 of cash was also seized. The Prowses are currently facing charges in relation to this incident and are in the middle of a trial. They are next appearing in court on Dec. 5.