A DRUG dealer who ran a cannabis farm in an attempt to clear thousands of pounds of debts was spared jail.

Andrew Hoare, 38, had the “sophisticated” facility inside his home with 25 plants able to yield more than £8,000 of the drug, Newport Crown Court heard.

The mechanical engineer of Cotswold Close, Newport, sold the drug after racking up debts including £12,000 on a bank account, the court heard.

Judge Robert Craven gave him a suspended 12-month custodial sentence after hearing he had a “fragile” state of mind and any prison time could have an impact on an autistic relative.

Judge Craven told him: “In my view, a custodial sentence is appropriate, but in the circumstances it is one, in my judgment, that can be suspended.”

Police found 24 cannabis plants and a “mother plant” able to produce better quality cannabis in his garage and home during a raid July, said prosecutor Gareth James.

Judge Craven told the court the “sophisticated” facility spread over several rooms must have required some expense to set up.

Hoare pleaded guilty to two charges of producing the class B drug and a further charge of possessing a class B drug with intent to supply.

His barrister, Mark Pattrick, said that his client had admitted that dealing had taken place and that he was himself a “heavy” cannabis user.

He stressed that Hoare had helped his autistic relative with transport and had referred himself to the Kaleidoscope project, which assists people with substance misuse problems.

The probation service added that he had been diagnosed with depression and received medication for the condition.

Judge Craven gave him a one-year jail term, suspended for 18 months, for all three offences to run concurrently.

He also gave him a three-month overnight curfew, a 12-month supervision order and set up a timetable to examine the possibility of recovering funds gained through the sale of the drug under the Proceeds of Crime Act.