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Dealing duo sentenced

A married couple has been sentenced to intensive supervision more than three years after police found 115 cannabis plants growing in their backyard and shed.

The couple sat in the dock together when they were sentenced in Masterton District Court on Wednesday. They admitted to charges of cultivating and possessing cannabis for supply, and the husband admitted to further charges of manufacturing cannabis oil for personal use and shoplifting $4500 of goods from several businesses, including Masterton Countdown and Mitre 10.

Police found the cannabis plants after a search warrant of the couple’s house in 2019, where they discovered 80 mature plants in the backyard, 20 more under heat lamps in the shed, and a further 15 seedlings.

Remnants of cannabis oil were found in a frying pan.

Both offenders admitted they had grown and sold cannabis for several years.

Although the charges were severe enough to warrant imprisonment, the couple’s lawyers argued that intensive supervision was a more appropriate sentence given the mitigating circumstances.

Michael Bott, lawyer for the husband, said his client suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks, and the legal proceedings have taken a tremendous toll on his client since 2019.

“He has had suicidal thoughts and has low self-esteem; he ruminates on his life.

“His mental illness is very severe; he doesn’t go out much at all.”

Bott said the man had also been hospitalised after an anxiety attack.

Andra Mobberley, who represented the wife, said her client carries much of the burden of her family’s financial and mental health problems, caring for her husband and micromanaging the lives of two of their three adult children.

“[My client] is already serving a sentence just by living a very difficult day-to-day existence; intensive supervision would give further support for the budgeting and counselling services they’ve been attending,” Mobberley said.

Judge Barbara Morris said she initially had community detention in mind for the husband.

“After listening to Mr Bott and hearing about [his client’s] health decline, and all the couple have done to turn their life around, this is probably an exceptional case where we can recommend supervision,” she said.

Judge Morris said she considered their guilty pleas, the considerable stresses of the wife’s life, and the husband’s mental health difficulties when making her sentencing decision.

Judge Morris sentenced the wife to 18 months of intensive supervision and the husband to two years of intensive supervision.

It was accepted the husband could not pay any reparation for his shoplifting, given their financial position.

Both were ordered to continue attending drug and alcohol relapse prevention, and budgeting courses.

“This case has been much affected by the length of time it has taken for this case to move through the justice system and the stress of losing your house,” Morris said.

“I do not think the community needs to be concerned you will be involved in cannabis dealing in the future.”

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