A MAN has been spared an immediate jail sentence for setting up a 60 plant commercial cannabis farm to pay off a debt.

Jamie Gill started the crop from seed after doing research on the internet, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Gill, 35, a gas engineer, of Bobbin Mill Court, Steeton, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity at the magistrates’ court to production of cannabis.

The court heard that he hoped to make £7,200 by selling the crop wholesale.

Prosecutor Samreen Akhtar told the court the police attended at Gill’s then address in Napier Street, Keighley, on November 29 last year.

They found a total of 60 cannabis plants on different floors and the electricity supply had been by-passed.

Miss Akhtar said that a police expert estimated that the grow could have produced up to 3.51 kilos of cannabis. Its wholesale value was up to £21,000 and the street value was up to £30,000.

Gill had no previous convictions for drugs offences. He was last in trouble three years ago for driving while disqualified.

Jenna Chaplin said in mitigation that Gill was in debt to cannabis dealers.

He spent £500 buying equipment for the grow and hoped to make £7,500 from the one-off sale of the crop.

“This was a one-man band, effectively,” Miss Chaplin said.

The cannabis farm was entirely Gill’s operation and he started it after he was threatened over a debt.

Miss Chaplin said that this was his first and only cannabis grow and his inexperience meant that half the crop would have been worthless.

He had admitted straight away that the drugs were his and showed genuine remorse for his actions.

Gill knew it was a serious offence and that he might be imprisoned. He had never been to custody and he had stayed out of trouble since.

He had also taken steps to address his issue with cannabis use.

The judge, Recorder David Kelly, accepted that Gill owed money at the time and that his life was in a downward spiral.

It was an isolated and uncharacteristic offence and the probation service said there was a good prospect of rehabilitation.

Recorder Kelly sentenced Gill to 20 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid work.

He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the growing equipment and the plants.

Miss Akhtar said the Crown was not pursuing Gill under the Proceeds of Crime Act.