A MACEDON Ranges man who was found with a clandestine drug laboratory in his home has avoided time in prison.
Henry Camilleri, 45, appeared in the County Court on Thursday where he pleaded guilty to trafficking a drug of dependence, possessing a drug of dependence, possessing equipment for trafficking, possessing a precursor chemical, cultivating a narcotic plant, and possessing a firearm as a prohibited person.
Documents obtained by the Bendigo Advertiser said on August 4, 2018, police attended Camilleri's Gisborne property following reports he had threatened his partner with a gun.
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Officers arrived at the Kilmore Road property just before 10am.
As Camilleri spoke with one of the officers, the second constable entered one of the bedrooms and saw a clandestine drug laboratory set up on the floor. There was a box of drug paraphernalia beside it.
Camilleri told the officer his partner had "set him up" and that he "doesn't touch the stuff".
Camilleri was arrested and when police tried to transport him to the Gisborne Police Station, he asked for permission to urinate against a tree in his driveway.
As he walked to the tree, Camilleri took a small glass crack pipe from his pocket and placed it on the ground. Officers seized the pipe.
Detectives searched the property later that day and in the concealed room of the shed, they found a hydroponic grow room with a cannabis plant.
Officers also seized one gram of green vegetable matter, an ice pipe, a loaded hand gun, ammunition rounds, cold and flu tablets, and various equipment related to the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Police also seized Camilleri's phone and found videos and photos of the 45-year-old with the clandestine laboratory.
Camilleri initially provided a no-comment interview to police. During a second interview, Camilleri admitted to owning the cannabis plant, but denied any involvement with the gun or drug laboratory.
Defence counsel David Langton submitted written remarks to the County Court, which were provided to the Bendigo Advertiser.
Mr Langton said Camilleri began using the drug speed in his late teens after he started work as a baker.
The defence counsel said Camilleri bought his first Bakers Delight franchise in 2001 and owned four stores by 2010.
Mr Langton said his client would use speed to stay awake during the day so he could spend time with his young family and keep up with work requirements.
The defence counsel said Camilleri's marriage broke down in 2017 and he had limited contact with his children.
Mr Langton said the marriage breakdown followed increasing debt and issues with Camilleri's stores.
The defence counsel said during that time, Camilleri was "deeply depressed, stressed, anxious, and at times suicidal".
He said the 45-year-old admitted he made "very poor decisions".
Mr Langton submitted with Camilleri's background and modest prior convictions, a community corrections order would be an appropriate sentence.
Judge Elizabeth Gaynor said it was clear the breakdown of Camilleri's marriage and businesses led to his offending.
The judge said it took strength of character for the 45-year-old to plead guilty to the offences.
"I understand it would have been a humiliating experience for you," Judge Gaynor said. "I'm satisfied you're on the comeback trail."
Judge Gaynor convicted and sentenced Camilleri to a 20-month community corrections order.
Under the order, Camilleri will need to complete 150 hours of community work, drug treatment, and mental health counselling.
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