A PENSNETT man who ran a cannabis farm in an industrial estate at Wordsley because he owed a gambling debt to members of the travelling community has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Recorder Keith Raynor told bar doorman Simon Wood at Wolverhampton Crown Court he had "come within a whisker" of losing his freedom.

The 38-year-old handed himself in to police just hours after it was reported officers had discovered the farm in a unit near the Red House Glass Cone.

There were 55 plants being cultivated inside four rooms on two floors in the site and there was also a quantity of herbal cannabis being dried in one room.

Sati Ruck, prosecuting, told the court it was estimated the value of the controlled drug ranged from £21,000 up to £52,000.

Wood, of Tiled House Lane, admitted producing cannabis and was given a nine-month jail term suspended for a year by the Recorder.

He was further told he must obey a four-month night curfew and ordered to carry out 240 hours unpaid work in the community.

Mrs Ruck said police officers raided the industrial unit in July last year after residents living in the area had complained about a "strong smell" coming from the site.

Robert Cowley, defending, said Wood - who also did voluntary work at a boxing club - maintained he had only been connected with the unit for two months.