A MAN who agreed to look after cannabis plants for someone else has been spared jail.
Stephen Wallace, 52, was arrested after police found 20 plants growing at a house in Frederic Street, Hartlepool, where he was living at the time.
They also discovered that Wallace had bypassed the electricity meter and used £610 of electric he was not charged for to help the plants grow.
Judge Howard Crowson said the set up was “relatively sophisticated” but accepted Wallace was not in charge of them.
If he was, he would have gone to jail, said Judge Crowson.
Wallace admitted production of a Class B drug and abstracting electricity between November 1 and December 6 in 2011.
Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, said his client was a chronic alcoholic who would benefit from help from the probation service.
Wallace, now of Ann Crooks Way, Hartlepool, was given a community order with 18 months’ probation.
Judge Crowson said: “I was concerned you may have had a more significant role but the more I look at it the more I don’t believe that.
“I take the view your role was really of looking after plants having being given a roof over your head at a time when you needed it.
“I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I do take the view cannabis cultivation is a bit of a problem in this area.
“If I thought you had a greater role you would have gone to prison.”