A BUTCHER and former taxi driver who grew cannabis was spared a jail sentence.
Leslie George appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court charged with money laundering and production of a class B drug.
The 43-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges, which date from early 2013.
The court heard that £2,345 had passed through George’s bank account from February 5, 2013 until April 19, 2013.
Prosecuting, Paul Fairley said George had been caught by police at his home with 22 plants, which had a street value of between £5,000 and £15,000, on May 29, 2013.
Mr Fairley said: ‘He admitted growing it and said there had been two previous crops.
‘He had been asked to grow the plants by another person and said that he had been given £1,000 per month.’
Police found plants in one of his first-floor bedrooms, with hydroponics and growing equipment, although in interview George would not reveal the names of the others involved.
Defending, Rebecca Austin said: ‘He is a very susceptible man, he is a very amiable man and he is someone likely to do anything he is asked to do.’
She said George, of Rodney Close, Gosport, was not a cannabis user and he had not been in trouble before but had fallen on hard times after his grandmother died and his wife left him.
Ms Austin said letters were found in his house saying he was behind on mortgage payments and he was being chased by debt collectors.
She said that even though he had since sold his house to pay off the debt, it was not enough and he would soon be declared bankrupt.
She said: ‘When police found the cannabis plants, they also found the reason why he had found himself in these circumstances.’
George, who works in a butchers part-time and also cares for his father, was given four months in prison suspended for a year for the money laundering and eight months in prison suspended for a year for the drug production.
He was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Judge John Williams said: ‘It is sad, the background how you came to be tempted into committing these offences. You have now lost your good character.’