Police called to an attempted break-in in the back garden of a Whitstable house found 58 cannabis plants growing behind a false wall in the garage.
The estimated yield value was between £11,000 and £53,000, Canterbury Crown Court was told on Wednesday (April 1).
James McShane, 37, of Sydney Road, told police he started growing the cannabis to help his aunt who was in pain from cancer.
James McShane was jailed for 28 months
But he carried on growing the plants after she had died, Christopher May, prosecuting, told the court.
McShane admitted the production of class B drugs and was jailed for two years and four months.
Mr May said that when police officers went to McShane’s home after reports of an attempted break-in, they saw an open window in the garage and noticed a strong smell of cannabis.
They found a room behind a false wall where there were 26 mature plants and 32 smaller ones, along with growing equipment. The electricity supply had also been bypassed.
Mr May told the court: “This was clearly a commercial cultivation and the reason for the break-in was because people were trying to get the drugs.”
“He has learned a salutary lesson…” – Ian Bond, defending
Ian Bond, defending, said for the best part of his adult life McShane had been of good character. He had a good job with London Underground and a wife and four children.
“McShane built the garage and partitioned off a part to store his tools,” Mr Bond said.
“The cannabis seeds and equipment were bought legitimately from a company in Medway. He started it to help his aunt who had cancer and was in lots of pain.
“He was quite good at it but what he can’t explain is why, after his aunt’s death, he did not bust it up. This is not a family who is in need of a commercial cannabis operation. He has learned a salutary lesson and he is a man that has a lot to lose.”
Judge Heather Norton told McShane: “You have a wife, a good job and security and why you got yourself in a position to cultivate large quantities of cannabis, equipped with lighting, heat lamps and ventilation, is difficult to understand.
“After your aunt’s death you continued to grow the cannabis to the ignorance of your wife. Although your wife and children were unaware of what was in that garage, clearly there were other people who were aware of what was in there.”
Judge Norton also ordered the destruction of the plants and equipment and ordered McShane to pay £128 victim surcharge.