A MAN has escaped a prison sentence after police found a cannabis factory in his house.

Officers had gone to the home of Andrew Willis looking for someone else and when Willis opened the door, the police noticed the distinctive smell of cannabis.

Willis, 52 showed them to a locked room and when he opened it, a total of 51 plants were found.

Willis, of Cumberland Crescent, Broomfield, told police the cannabis was for his own use as it helped to ease pain he was suffering.

He admitted growing cannabis when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court for sentence and was jailed for six months suspended for 12 months.

He was also given 12 months supervision and a 7pm-7am curfew for six months.

"This was organised but I accept you have a medical condition and were growing the cannabis for your consumption and the alleviation of pain," Recorder Thomas Linden QC told Willis.

Sarah Steggles, mitgating, told the court Willis was suffering from severe back pain and was planning to use the cannabis to help him.

It was for his own use and would not have been sold on to anyone else, Miss Steggles said.