A DROITWICH man who grew cannabis at his girlfriend’s home has escaped being jailed – despite being subject to a suspended prison sentence at the time.

Mark Brookes, 39, of Coppice Close, Droitwich, had pleaded guilty to a charge of producing cannabis at his partner’s home in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

The town’s magistrates committed his case to Warwick Crown Court because the offence put him in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed for an earlier drugs offence.

But at the crown court Brookes was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years.

Judge Marten Coates, sentencing Brookes after reading a report on him, also made him subject to 12 months supervision and ordered him to take part in a Thinking Skills programme.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Dann said that in September last year the police executed a search warrant at the home of Brookes’s partner in Vernons Lane, Nuneaton.

In a room at the property they found a growing tent containing seven cannabis plants which were being cultivated using high-powered growing lights and an extractor fan.

The officers also found a small bag of herbal cannabis, some growing instructions and, in the garden shed, 23 small cuttings which it was believed were being prepared as a follow-on crop.

The cannabis was said to have been worth just under £4,000 – and Brookes said he was growing it for his own use, rather than buying it, to save money.

Mr Dann pointed out that at the time Brookes was subject to an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

That sentence, suspended for 18 months and with 150 hours of unpaid work, had been imposed at the crown court in May 2011 for possessing heroin – so it had now expired.

On that occasion the court heard that the police had raided a flat in Marlborough Road, Nuneaton, in February 2010 after seeing 47 known drug-users visiting the premises.

Officers arrested the tenant, who was later jailed for two-and-a-half years for possessing heroin with intent to supply it, and his wife who was given a suspended sentence for the same offence.

Brookes was also arrested at the flat and was found to have a package of 6.42 grams of heroin between his buttock cheeks, which he said he had bought for himself in Birmingham.