'You can't live off pension', so 71-year-old grew cannabis

BESPECTACLED, with neatly combed almost-white hair, Alan Hogan looked like any other retiree.

But the 71-year-old standing in the dock of the Maroochydore District Court yesterday was not quite like every other retiree.

While other men his age tinker with old cars and woodwork, Mr Hogan used his back shed to grow cannabis.

Police who searched his Cooroibah property in July last year discovered a sophisticated home hydroponic set-up concealed behind a cupboard which could only be opened with a key.

They found nearly two kilograms of cannabis, 40 plants, and more than $1000 in a kitchen drawer.

In a recording played to the court, Mr Hogan told police the drug was for his own use.

When one of the officers suggested that he could not possibly smoke that much cannabis, he replied: "I try."

Mr Hogan told police that he had grown cannabis for a couple of years.

"There's no money. You can't live off the pension. I can't work. I had a shoulder reconstruction," he said.

He told police that his wife did not know about his crop.

"That's why it's all locked up. It's my shed," he said.

"She doesn't even know about the electricity bills. That's why I pay them."

Mr Hogan told the officer that he had been considering giving up cannabis because the power bills - $2500 a quarter - were too high.

"I really should pull the plug on this. I just got another electricity bill," he said.

Judge Tony Long said the evidence presented to the court effectively confirmed that Mr Hogan, who pleaded guilty to producing dangerous drugs and three other charges, was growing cannabis for commercial reasons.

The court was told that Mr Hogan had a long criminal history which included three convictions for armed robbery dating back to 1967.

But the judge noticed that Mr Hogan had not been in trouble with the law since he was paroled in 1985.

He sentenced him to two years in jail, to be suspended after he has served eight months.