A MAN has been spared jail after police discovered a £17,000 cannabis farm at his home.

Police had found a number of cannabis plants in the attic of Paul Rigby's then home on Lovely Lane, in Whitecross, Warrington in October last year.

But on Wednesday, April 4, Rigby, who now lives on Allanson Street, Parr was spared an immediate prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court.

The court heard that police attended Rigby's home on Thursday, October 12, while they were searching for another man.

Officers discovered a total of 18 cannabis plants in his loft, which Rigby - who is currently unemployed but has been offered work at a takeaway - said he had grown in order to pay his rent.

Tests found that the drugs had a potential street value of up to £17,000.

The 47-year-old, who is a carer to his dad, admitted production of cannabis at an earlier court hearing.

A reference had been written to the court in support of Rigby, who has one previous conviction for an importation offence in 2014 - for which he received a suspended sentence, by Warrington Council's executive board member for leisure and community Cllr Tony Higgins.

Defending barrister Katy Appleton said: "My client accepts responsibility for his actions, for which he is remorseful.

"He is a man with a number of health issues and he initially wanted to alleviate his pain with the cannabis, but it later became financially motivated.

"I would ask your honour to step back from imposing an immediate custodial sentence."

Recorder Eric Lamb handed him a six-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

The judge also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and imposed a victim surcharge on Rigby.

Sentencing, recorder Lamb said: "Your conviction in 2014 should have been a wake-up call to avoid further criminality.

"However, by October last year you had a small but capable set up for cannabis cultivation in your loft.

"There are powerful mitigating circumstances here - you are in poor health and you are a man of exemplary character.

"I'm also aware that you are a carer for your father, who is in particularly poor health, and you are seeking to apply yourself actively on behalf of the community - the reference from your local councillor speaks of that.

"This offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence is justified, but with this in mind I am inclined to suspend this sentence.

"You must not commit any offences in the next 12 months, or you may be ordered to serve part or all of this sentence."