Published: 00:01, 15 May 2018
A husband and wife who ran a cannabis factory from outbuildings at their home have avoided going straight to prison - because of their children.
Loss adjuster Neil and charity worker Yvette Hartley had been warned they faced jail after police raided the house and discovered 88 plants growing.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how Mrs Hartley initially said the plants, which were grown outside a cottage in Maypole Road, Hoath, would be used to make cannabis oil to treat cancer.
But the claims were later withdrawn. The judge told them he didn’t believe they had told the truth about their involvement in the factory.
But Recorder Jonathan Davies took pity on the couple, telling them that if he sent them straight to jail, the lives of the children, aged 13 and 16, would be left in turmoil.
Neil, 45, and Yvette, 48, now of Cambridge Road, Canterbury, had both pleaded guilty to producing the Class B drug in August last year.
Phil Rowley, for Mr Hartley, said at an earlier hearing that the couple were not involved in the supply of cannabis - just the production.
“One of the reasons or motivations for the production of this drug was related to Mrs Hartley’s healthcare.
“It is conceded by Mr Hartley that his involvement was greater than his wife’s.”
But the recorder told them: “This was a well established operation, a cannabis factory.
"You risked their futures by your conduct because you must have known the consequences of what you were doing" - Recorder Jonathan Davies
"You were involved in the cultivation part of a much larger operation.
“And I am not sure if either of you has ever told the truth about this operation, which would have involved daily attention and was done for financial reasons.
“I suspect the cannabis oil was just a smokescreen to cover up the nature of it.”
The two were each given a 22-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
Both were also told they had to remain at their home under a 12-week night-time curfew order.
The judge added that in not sending them to prison, he might be seen by some as “soft and weak”, but said the children were at a “crucial part of their lives”.
He added: “You risked their futures by your conduct because you must have known the consequences of what you were doing.”
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