A father who grew a cannabis crop and planned to traffic the drugs to pay for his son's treatment for an ice addiction has been jailed for four years.
When Veli Selmani learned ice was behind his 26-year-old son's increasingly aggressive behaviour, he vowed to get help and paid $40,000 for his son to attend The Hader Clinic, a renowned rehabilitation centre.
Knowing the treatment would put further strain on his family's tight finances, Selmami also acted on the advice of a friend, who said growing and selling cannabis might be the best way to find extra cash.
It proved, the County Court heard on Wednesday, a disastrous decision and one the judge described as a "misguided" attempt to help.
When police this year raided Selmani's home in Melbourne's western suburbs they found 17 mature cannabis plants weighing almost 50 kilograms and a sophisticated hydroponic set-up.
Selmani was charged with cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis and theft — for stealing extra electricity from power suppliers — and on Wednesday was jailed for four years.
The 64-year-old, who pleaded guilty to both charges, must serve two years before he is eligible for parole.
Judge Frances Hogan said there was "a sad irony" that in trying to save his son from a drug addiction, Selmani grew drugs that others find equally addictive.
Selmani was jailed in the Northern Territory in the 1980s for manslaughter after a dispute with a man ended in the a fatal attack. Since then Selmani had lived a law-abiding life and been a "fundamentally decent and hard-working man", Judge Hogan found.
She said he had worked hard in the steel industry, provided for his immediate family and had over the years sent about $330,000 to his native Kosovo, to relatives who endured hardship since the Balkans War.
Judge Hogan said while Selmani was not motivated by greed and grew the cannabis to pay for his son's treatment, she had to punish those who provided drugs that caused widespread social damage and to deter others from similar offending.
"Unfortunately you have made two devastatingly bad judgments in your life: back in the Northern Territory three-and-a-half decades ago and more recently in your misguided attempt to help save your son and your family from financial ruin by planting this cannabis crop," she told Selmani.
The court heard Selmani's son had visited a psychologist, who reported the younger man presented as aggressive, rude, self-centred and with no awareness of the trouble he had caused others.
Judge Hogan told the father: "I can only hope that your son will realise that by his self-indulgent behaviour he has already caused a great deal of grief to your family.
"Your misguided attempt to help him is what has resulted in your going to prison and that factor should weigh on him so that he should feel a sense of responsibility to steer clear of ice and other illicit substances and take up an honourable and contributing role to help the family while you are in custody."