The Fire Service went to Chou’s rented Stanmore Rd, Shirley house on October 1 because water was leaking from the home and running down the driveway.
But sentencing Christchurch District Court Judge Emma Smith accepted there was no sign it was a commercial set-up – there were no scales or lists of customers that are often found in commercial drug busts – and granted Chou, a father of two young children, a five-month community detention sentence in place of a jail term.
The judge imposed the maximum 400 hours of community work, which she estimated would take Chou two years to complete.
Ward said Chou accepted what he did was “completely misguided, completely illegal, and had brought very great difficulties upon him and his family and his reputation”.
“He acts at quite a cerebral level, and he has not thought practically about what he was getting himself involved in,” Ward said.
Judge Smith acknowledged a community-based sentence was unusual for a drug charge of this type.
She said she had to consider a prison term, but reduced the term for his previous good character, his remorse, the lack of commerciality and his immediate guilty plea to the charge of cultivating cannabis. Chou and his family were not living at the address.
Chou would serve his commmunity detention in Bishopdale, living with his family.