Doncaster couple who set up Â£100k cannabis farm for 'medical reasons' spared jail
A Doncaster couple, who set up a 'professional and sophisticated' cannabis farm for 'medical reasons' with the potential to produce Â£100,000 of the class B drug annually, have been spared jail.
Sheffield Crown Court was told how 59-year-old Michael Gawthorpe and his wife Georgina Gawthorpe, 57, were found to be growing 18 cannabis plants of 'some maturity' across four different rooms at their home in Roxby Close, Bessacarr in November 2015.
The couple, who both admitted to one offence of production of cannabis each, were also found to have 72 cuttings from cannabis plants at their home.
Defending Georgina Gawthorpe, barrister Craig Lowe told the court that the couple claimed to have grown the Class B drug for their own personal use to assist with pain relief for the 'numerous health problems' suffered by his client.
Prosecutor Brian Outhwaite said the amount of cannabis taken from the couple's house was in the region of 3kg.
He said: "[The plants] have a potential annual yield of 13kg, which would have a value of £100,000 if sold.
"The set up was to a professional and sophisticated standard."
Recorder Paul Miller sentenced both Mr and Mrs Gawthorpe, who have no previous convictions, to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He told the couple that while he accepted their claim that the cannabis grown at their home was for personal use only, he did not believe Mrs Gawthorpe's assertion that she did not know it was illegal to grow cannabis.
He said: "What I don't find I am able to accept is the contention which was made by you in particular Mrs Gawthorpe that you didn't realise it was illegal to to grow cannabis. It follows from that that you wouldn't believe it was illegal to be in possession of cannabis.
"I note Mrs Gawthorpe, from the report, that you were for many years an avid gardener and enjoyed growing things; but you are unable to explain why you grew so many cuttings.
He added: "It's a very sad matter for yourselves that you should be appearing before this court at all.
"You have been together as a married couple for a long time, and in this society where relationships are more fragile than ever, it's a particular help that people do, if they can, remain married.
"It's beneficial, not only to their children, but through them, to society in general.
"Like all of us, both of you have had a lot to contend with. Mrs Gawthorpe, with all of your health problems and Mr Gawthorpe with a few problems of your own, and you have had the responsibility of assisting your wife.
"I can understand the frustration that both of you must have felt having Mrs Gawthorpe experience so much in the way of pain."
Mr Outhwaite told the court that a proceeds of crime hearing would be held in July, following this morning's sentencing.