Pot grower set 'man traps'

BUDDING birdwatcher, keen bushwalker and enterprising marijuana market gardener Alan Bridges took no chances.

If the Avon lady unexpectedly dropped in on his hidden drug plantation he made sure she would get a nasty welcome from hidden traps set up along bush tracks.

Bridges, 52, from Chinderah, was nabbed by camouflaged police officers in a pre-breakfast raid on May 8 as he arrived to tender his cannabis plants at Upper Duroby, near Tumbulgum.

The raid took the breath away from the startled Bridges who at first denied to police he planted the 371 cannabis plants, instead telling Tweed police officers he had been out in the bush to birdwatch and look for nests when he came upon the crop and began tending the plants for his personal use.

It was curious neighbours who brought the bird twitterer undone. After seeing his white Ford ute parked beside bushland on Hogan's Road they took photos and informed police.

In Lismore Local Court police facts presented by Tweed Heads police officer Sgt Frank Natoli, officers did a quick reconnaissance of the site and, along with the plants, found a “man trap”- a board, embedded with 100cm-long nails pointing up, buried in the ground of a track near the crops.

If stepped on, the nails would have pierced a foot, causing serious injury.

Two days later, officers lay in wait for Bridges who, at 7am, was heard to start up the gravity irrigation system to bring water down a steep ridge to the crops from two 44-gallon water tanks.

“Bridges had some difficulty breathing due to asthma and shock. He was given his puffer,” police said, after springing their sunrise surprise.

Police found five more of the nail-embedded traps placed on other tracks, saying such traps are common in bush cannabis sites, and are “set to maim and scare other people who enter the site”.

Bridges maintained the “man traps” were at the site when he took over, and he put them in different spots to deter snakes and lizards.

He pleaded guilty before magistrate Jeff Linden to cultivation of a prohibited plant - cannabis; possession of a prohibited drug; and setting traps with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Bridges will be sentenced on July 24.

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