A HEAVY cannabis user who got involved in a large-scale drugs farm has narrowly avoided being sent to prison.
Andrew Shadforth, 30, helped set up a cannabis farm with another person at a house in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool.
Teesside Crown Court heard how the plants discovered could have produced cannabis with a street value of £47,000.
But Shadforth said most of the drugs were intended to be smoked by Shadforth, 30, and his growing partner with a small amount being supplied to a small circle of friends.
Police raided the house on January 14 last year.
Sue Jacobs, prosecuting, said: “They discovered a cannabis farm on the third floor of the property in three rooms.
“One had growing devices and heat lamps but no plants.
“The second room was a functional cannabis farm with 59 plants and in the third room there was 38 immature plants growing in pots under normal conditions.
Digital scales and mobile phones were seized.”
When quizzed by police, Shadforth initially denied any involvement but later admitted finger prints on the equipment seized were his.
He later admitted production of a class B drug.
In a basis of plea he said he had been a long term cannabis user and decided with the second person, who has yet to appear in court, to grow his own so he could be sure of the quality and it was cheaper.
He accepted some would have been supplied to a close circle of friends to recoup the costs of the growing equipment.
Martin Scarborough, mitigating, for factory worker Shadforth, said: “He is a man of previous good character with no previous convictions.
“He was surrounded by cannabis from a young age and smokes it quite heavily.”
Shadforth, of Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, was sentenced to two years prison suspended for two years with 12 months probation supervision.
He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Tony Briggs said: “You have quite clearly been engaged in a fairly large scale cannabis cultivation but I accept you may not have been the initial leading light.
“It is just possible to suspend the sentence in the light of your plea and previous history.
“You must understand you have escaped immediate custody by a very narrow margin and any failure to carry out the conditions of the order or stay out of trouble will result in you going inside.”