Animal trainer had limited role in grow-op, says judge’s ruling

Gerry Therrien of Abbotsford allowed his property to be used, but did not benefit from the operation, according to court ruling.

Gerry Therrien is show with one of his animals during a show at Tradex in 2008.

Gerry Therrien is show with one of his animals during a show at Tradex in 2008.

An Abbotsford man who was sentenced in April for having a grow-op on his property had a limited role in the operation, a B.C. Supreme Court judge stated in his ruling.

Justice Frits Verhoeven sentenced Gerry Therrien to an 18-month conditional sentence (house arrest), after Therrien pleaded guilty to production of a controlled substance.

Verhoeven said Therrien’s only role appeared to be allowing someone else to use his property for the marijuana grow operation.

It does not appear that Therrien, 58, benefited financially from the enterprise, said Verhoeven, whose ruling was made April 28, but was not posted online until today (Friday).

“There certainly is no evidence by which I could conclude that Mr. Therrien had any share in profits from the operation, beyond what he might have received for the use of the premises – that is, by way of rent,” the judge stated.

Therrien – who trains exotic animals for TV, films, music videos, live performances and more – was charged after police conducted a search in 2010 of the Matsqui Prairie property that he owned at the time and found almost 1,600 marijuana plants in an outbuilding.

That building also contained an office used by Therrien.

His lawyer stated during Therrien’s sentencing hearing that his client allowed another person, who is unidentified and has never been charged, to use space on his rural property for a grow-op.

“The defence contends that his guilt lies in being aware of it and turning a blind eye to it,” Verhoeven stated in his ruling.

After Therrien was charged, a civil forfeiture order was made by the provincial government to claim the property as having benefited from the proceeds of crime.

According to the court documents, Therrien contested the order, but the cost of the proceedings and other financial setbacks he had experienced resulted in the foreclosure and loss of the property.

The property’s new owner has rented it to Therrien, who continues to live there and use the site for his business.

Therrien pleaded guilty earlier this year to production of a controlled substance.

Charges were also laid against his son, Luc Therrien, and Houston Roach, who occupied a two-bedroom suite in the outbuilding at the time of the police bust,  but charges were stayed against them.