A JOINER hit by the recession turned to producing cannabis to pay off his debts, a court heard.

David Lomas and his accomplice Timothy Newman, from Darwen, admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis, possessing cannabis with intent to supply and Newman also admitted possession.

Bolton Crown Court heard that police raided Lomas’s bungalow last January and found both men. In the living room was Newman’s wallet containing £420 and two sandwich bags full of cannabis worth £133.

In a rear bedroom they found bags of cannabis bush valued at £1,640 and in the loft were heating lamps, compost and 100 plant pots and fertilizer.

Lomas, 44, told police: “I’m £35,000 in debt. There’s nothing I could do.”

He told officers Newman, 35, of the Millstone Hotel, Bridge Street, was responsible for bagging up the drug and selling it on.

Judge Timothy Stead was told that Newman had returned to England the previous month after living in Thailand and had been staying with Lomas.

Peter Cunliffe, defending Newman, said he was of previous good character and got involved in the crime because of financial problems.

Lomas, of Over Hulton, near Bolton, was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work.

Newman was given a 15-month jail term, suspended for two years and told to do 160 hours unpaid work. Both men also have to pay a £100 victim surcharge.