A mother of two told a court she allowed a loan shark to set up a cannabis farm in her bedroom.
Beverley Anderson said she was behind with loan payments, and was told her sons would be beaten up if she didn’t allow her house in Hartlepool to be used for the farm.
“I was frightened,” Anderson, 54, told Teesside Crown Court.
“I borrowed £500 a few months earlier. Some payments for my crisis loans were being taken from my benefits, so I got behind with the payments on the other loan.
“It kept going up, before long he told me I owed £3,000.
“The man who lent me the money said the debt would be cleared if I let them grow the cannabis.
“If I didn’t, he said my sons would be beaten up.”
Anderson refused to name the loan shark, or two men she claimed visited the house regularly to tend the plants.
Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said: “Police found 32 semi-mature plants growing in a bedroom of the house.
“There was also watering and ventilation equipment.
“The electricity meter of the house had been tampered with to disguise the increased consumption of electricity.
“If cropped, police estimated the street value of the plants to be up to £12,000.
“nPower’s loss has been quantified at £972.60.”
Anderson, of Rosthwaite Close, Hartlepool, admitted producing a Class B drug, and abstracting electricity between January and April of this year.
She has previous convictions for possessing cannabis and heroin.
Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: “As the court has heard, Ms Anderson was under a degree of pressure. But she also admits she was responsible for what she allowed to happen in her house.”
Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Anderson to 10 months in prison, suspended for one year.
The judge told her: “You are not going to prison, but if you breach this suspended order, you will be.”
The judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the cannabis and growing equipment.