Couple used their £500,000 thatched cottage to hide cannabis factory
A couple who used their £500,000 thatched cottage to hide a massive cannabis factory have been spared jail.
Police found 88 cannabis plants growing at the home of Yvette and Neil Hartley in the tiny Kent village of Hoath.
Charity worker Yvette, 48, and loss adjuster Neil, 45, admitted producing the Class B drug, but claimed it was for their own use.
The drugs factory was found in one of the buildings at their home, Pear Tree Cottage.
Originally, Mrs Hartley claimed the plants were used to make cannabis oil to treat cancer – but she later withdrew this story.
The couple’s defence lawyer, Phil Rowley, claimed at Canterbury Crown Court that they were involved in the production but not the distribution of cannabis.
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Recorder Jonathan Davies said he might be seen as “soft and weak” by not sending them to prison, but added that the couple’s two children were at a “crucial part of their lives”.
He told them: “You risked their futures by your conduct because you must have known the consequences of what you were doing.
“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 couple were each given a 22-month jail sentence on Monday, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
The couple, who have since moved, were also told they had to remain at their home under a 12-week night-time curfew order.