Barrister Greg Barns defends Stephen Taylor of Winmalee in medicinal cannabis court case

A Winmalee dad facing police charges after juicing home grown cannabis to treat his seriously ill daughters has appeared again in Penrith Local Court on Wednesday [April 11].

Stephen Alan Taylor, 64, was charged with cultivating a prohibited plant and two counts of possessing a prohibited plant, after police removed 107 plants from his rented home on December 8 last year. He told the Gazette last month he entered a not guilty plea “on the grounds of medical necessity”.

Mr Taylor spent more than five years watching daughters Morgan, now 21, and Ariel, 25, suffer from the chronic auto-immune condition Crohn's Disease before deciding to grow cannabis in his backyard to help them. The sisters were repeatedly hospitalised with the condition and had serious side effects from pharmaceutical drugs. 

One of Australia’s leading barristers, the former chair of the Australian Republican Movement and adviser to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Greg Barns, appeared in court to represent Mr Taylor pro bono.

The Tasmanian-based barrister told relieving Magistrate Atkinson it was “essentially a medicinal cannabis case … the facts are not in dispute, but the matter may be resolved in a different way”.

Police prosecutor, Senior Sergeant Craig Pullen, said he had only been instructed on the case last Friday [April 6] and needed to review “certain expert material”. He asked relieving magistrate Atkinson for a new date to set a hearing. The matter was deferred until May 23.