A BROMSGROVE man has been jailed after turning to cannabis production when he "hit rock bottom" in the recession.

Robert Mason, 44, ran into debt and his marriage broke down as his paint spraying business struggled, Worcester Crown Court heard.

He left the family home and rented a house in Sedgefield Walk, where he rewired the double garage, installed a new back door and set it up as a cannabis factory.

Christopher Lester, prosecuting, told the court that police stopped him in his car outside his home on the evening of January 13 and noticed a strong smell of cannabis. They also noticed unusually bright lights in the garage and Mason immediately told them about the plants.

He had 35 plants growing and said he had harvested a crop the previous year which had made £15,000. He sold to just one buyer and was expecting his current crop to make the same. He pleaded guilty to production of cannabis.

Gerald Bermingham, defending, said Mason had wanted to make sure he could keep on top of his debts, which were between £15,000 and £20,000, and still provide for his wife and their three children. He had taken the "idiotic and stupid" decision to start growing cannabis, a hybrid skunk variety known as bubblegum or cheese.

He had been running a paint spraying business employing a number of staff but the recession had caused him difficulty and he "hit rock bottom," Mr Bermingham said.

He had lost the tenancy to the house and was now living in a caravan on a friend's property.

Judge Michael Cullum said Mason had been running a commercial operation and was well on the way to growing a crop worth £15,000. He jailed Mason for 14 months.