|A pensioner has escaped jail for growing cannabis to ease his arthritis after he vowed to stop producing the drug.|
Leslie Williams, 73, built a greenhouse to grow the drug in the bedroom of his house in Runcorn, Cheshire.
He was given a two-year conditional discharge at Warrington Crown Court and ordered to pay £192 costs from his state pension.
Judge David Hale warned the pensioner he would face serious consequences if he was caught with cannabis again, and told him: "Never be so stupid again."
Williams, dressed in a navy suit and cap, has suffered four strokes in the past 20 years.
The widower hobbled into court aided by a member of staff and was given permission to sit throughout the short hearing.
The court heard police were called to his house after worried neighbours became concerned for his welfare because they had not seen him for some time.
Officers broke the door down and searched the house - finding 20 cannabis plants growing inside a sophisticated greenhouse set up in his bedroom. Police also found lights, insecticides, compost, growing pellets and scales.
The court heard Williams, a former merchant seaman, had been cautioned in May last year for cultivating cannabis.
He told officers he grew the plants to smoke cannabis for pain relief as he suffers from chronic arthritis.
The pensioner pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Runcorn Magistrates' Court to producing a Class C drug on January 27.
Sentencing him Judge Hale said: "The important thing is Mr Williams has given up using cannabis, a very wise decision on his behalf."
Speaking outside court Williams said he was pleased with the outcome.
"I was expecting to go to prison for three months so I feel elated.
"I think the law should be changed so people can smoke cannabis for medicine. I've been worried out of my head about this."
He vowed never to grow cannabis again but said he would smoke it if offered it by other people. "I just don't want to get into any more trouble."
Williams, who is teetotal, said he would celebrate the court's decision with a trip to the bookmakers.