A MAN grew up to £25,000 worth of cannabis in his garden to get out of debt.

Carl Burrows, 57, of Oakwood Road, Rayleigh, avoided a jail term when he appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday and avoided a jail term.

He had previously admitted to producing 1,489 grams of cannabis and possessing 158 grams with the intent to supply.

He also admitted to abstracting electricity to the value of £772 so he could power the cultivation in his shed without paying for it.

Natalie Bird, prosecuting, told the court Burrows had been stopped by police at Tilbury docks on November 15 last year, and following a search of his car, the cannabis was discovered.

She said: “He initially told police he was at the docks to buy timber. When the cannabis was found, he said ‘I just got it off some guy, I do it for a little bit of cash on the side’. He said he was in £40,000 worth of credit card debt. After his arrest, his home was searched, where £1,180 in cash was found, and 24 cannabis plants were recovered in total.”

The street value was estimated to be between £6,000 and £25,000. Sailesh Mehta, mitigating, said Burrows had become desperate after getting into huge amounts of debt.

He said: “He put a little bet on stocks and shares and got his fingers burnt, and he decided to gamble. He got greatly into debt and decided he needed to fill the hole without the help of his wife.

“In his desperation he turned to a person who said he could set everything up and get him making large amounts of money. The majority of the cannabis was for this one person.”

Burrows had a previous conviction in 1988 for false accounting.

Judge Ian Graham gave Burrows 12 months for production of cannabis and possession with intent, and six months for obstructing electricity, suspended for two years and to run concurrently. He must also do 200 hours of unpaid work. He said: “You have been out of trouble for 30 years, but now you’ve got yourself into big trouble. You would be very foolish to do anything like this again.”