POLICE uncovered a cannabis farm in a shed after they arrested a burglary suspect.
Gary Hackworth, 45, grew the crop of 22 plants that could have produced powerful skunk cannabis with a street value of up to £3,700.
Officers discovered the mature plants after they arrested Hackworth on suspicion of burgling a disused factory last year and searched his home.
A garden shed at the back of his house in Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, was being used to grow the drug, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Hackworth insisted most of the drug was for his own use, but later admitted he would have sold some to people he knew.
He escaped an instant jail term when he was sentenced yesterday, and was given a suspended sentence.
The shed contained a “second chamber” where the plants, which were weeks from maturity, were growing.
The wall had been lined with foil and extra lighting had been installed.
Richard Parsell, prosecuting, said: “The set up was reasonably professional.
“The potential yield for the defendant alone would not be what he could use all himself.”
Chris Baker, mitigating, said no money or dealers lists were found by the police.
He said: “The defendant would submit although there was the intention to supply it was on a very limited basis and this is the defendant’s first conviction for this type of offence.
“It’s clear he was struggling with the misuse of cannabis at this time in his life. He is genuinely sorry for what he has done.”
Hackworth, currently unemployed, was given six months prison suspended for two years. He was also given 12 months probation supervision and must do 150 hours unpaid work.
Judge George Moorhouse said: “You know that people who deal in drugs in whatever shape or form at whatever level are committing a serious offence.”