A Sutton man was forced to grow cannabis to pay off a £1,800 rent debt, a court has heard.
Paul Richardson, 43, of St Mary’s Road, admitted growing the Class B drug at his home address on October 7, 2015.
Police arrived at his house following a tip-off and smelled cannabis when he opened the door, said Ruth Snoddin, prosecuting.
Five plants were found in his shed and five cuttings were discovered under a UV light in the kitchen, along with a plastic tub containing harvested cannabis.
She said: “He was in debt to a friend he wouldn’t name. The friend allowed him to cancel the debt if he grew for him.
“Another man gave him equipment and showed him how to harvest the plants.”
Melanie Hoffman, mitigating, said: “The person he owed money to suggested it a few times but eventually pressure was put on him to pay off the debt.
“The cannabis set-up was brought to his property. He received no money for having taken part in it.”
Ms Hoffman said he had been unemployed at the time, but had since found a job working seven days a week as a ground worker.
“When police seized the equipment the debt increased,” she told the court.
The court heard the debt grew when his friend charged him rent while Richardson stayed with him during a breakdown in his relationship.
Magistrates gave Richardson 16 weeks, suspended for a year, and ordered him to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £80. The drugs and growing equipment were destroyed.