A DRUG addict, who ran a “sophisticated operation” producing thousands of pounds worth of cannabis at his Basingstoke home, has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Winchester Crown Court heard how Michael Marley was arrested by officers acting on a tip-off earlier this year.

Police officers discovered two of the three bedrooms in his Pershore Road home were being used to grow the drug on March 1. They found 37 plants along with equipment including lighting and scales, as well as £315 in cash.

Marley, 55, was arrested and bailed, but the equipment was not removed by the police.

When they returned to the address on April 24, they found that Marley had set up the equipment once more and had cultivated a further 20 plants.

Prosecuting, Rob Welling said: “This time they put the whole set-up in a skip – they did not have one with them on the first occasion.”

Mr Welling said the total estimated street value of the drugs was around £7,500.

Marley pleaded guilty to two counts of production of cannabis, and one charge of possession of cocaine, which related to a small amount of the drug found by the police at his address during their first visit.

Defending Marley, Stuart Western said he had grown the drug to feed and fund his own habit.

He said: “He accepts he had a considerable cannabis problem himself. He accepts he was selling some of that cannabis to fund his own habit.”

He added his client suffered from a number of health problems, including Hepatitis C, sciatica, fibrosis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis and peritonitis, adding that he has no teeth and also has problems with alcohol.

He said that Marley had been “tearful and fearful” before being sentenced and was still depressed about his break-up with a long-term partner ten years ago.

Sentencing Marley, Judge Advocate General Robert Hill described the cultivation of the cannabis as a “sophisticated operation”, and said the fact he had carried on doing it while on police bail was an aggravating feature of the offence.

He sentenced Marley to a total of four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and a supervision order.

Marley was also told to pay a victim surcharge of £80.