Nearly five tonnes of tobacco leaf seized from a Motueka man in 2010 will not be returned to him, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Lawrence Reginald Jury won a High Court decision in December to have the tobacco worth about $2 million that he grew at his Pangatotara farm returned.
But Customs appealed and, in a judgement released yesterday, the appeal has been allowed and High Court ruling quashed.
The 4.8 tonnes of tobacco is now forfeited to the Crown and Mr Jury must also pay as-yet undetermined court costs.
The justices said there was a legal basis for seizure, as there was just cause to think Mr Jury intended to manufacture.
“Mr Jury grew and stored the tobacco for sale, investing considerable efforts, resource and expense in that venture. He wanted to sell the tobacco. He knew the only market for the tobacco was those who would unlawfully manufacture it,” the judgement said.
A Customs officer had reasonable cause in 2010 to suspect the tobacco was intended for unlawful manufacture and Mr Jury was convicted of this in 2012.
This was later quashed by the High Court on the basis the Crown had not proved his homegrown tobacco was intended for an illegal purpose.
In New Zealand it is not illegal to grow tobacco, but it is to manufacture it for smoking, which requires a licence. NZME