A MAN who ended up in debt through playing poker was onto a loser when he agreed to look after a cannabis farm to try and slash his dues.

Police went on to discover plant material which would have yielded more than a kilo of cannabis.

Plants were also found in a downstairs room of the property in Martinique Drive, Darwen, with the remains of other plants being seen in a garage there.

Paul Mead, 44, was given a suspended sentence, having pleaded guilty to offences of producing cannabis and also possessing the drug with intent to supply.

Officers executed a drugs warrant at the address on October 1 last year.

Lisa Worsley, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said that harvested cannabis bush was found in two bedrooms.

It was estimated that they would have yielded as much as 1.197 kgs of cannabis.

Twenty two plants were found in a downstairs room.

Police discovered what they felt was a ‘very sophisticated set-up’ in a garage. There were extractors, lighting hanging from ceiling rigging, draught proofing and insulation.

In the garage the remains of another thirty seven cannabis plants were found.

Mead told police he had been living as a guest of another man, at the address, for around three and a half months.

He said he had been £4,000 in debt and had hoped to raise £2,000 from the cannabis when it was cropped. He spoke of watering the plants for others who had installed the equipment.

Mead had no drug related offending on his record.

Mark Stuart, defending, saidthe defendant had earlier got himself into debt playing poker.

"Others made sure he lost and made sure he was in debt.

"He was not in a position to pay the debt back. He felt he had little choice, but to accept what happeed.

"Others brought the equipment and set it up. They came twice and cropped it.

Mead was given 14 months prison, suspended for two years, with twelve months supervision. He was told to pay a £100 surcharge.

Judge Beverley Lunt described the offences as ‘despicable’.

She told him: "I will give you this one chance. It is the only chance you are getting".