Police found £65,000 of cannabis being grown at a house in a leafy suburb of Sheffield, a court heard.
Grower Matthew Gullett, aged 29, a businessman, was wearing a police-style forensic suit when officers raided the home on Westminster Crescent, Fulwood.
Three rooms were being used for growing and drying cannabis with hydroponic equipment, scales and plastic bags present, said James Gould, prosecuting.
There were 45 plants in various stages of growth with a potential yield of about four kilos and another two-and-a-half kilos were found drying.
On the streets police estimated the cannabis would have fetched £65,000.
Gullett initially made no comment but later said he was merely a ‘gardener’ and it was somebody else’s set-up.
He needed cash because he had run up debts and was paid to help with cropping and spent about an hour a day at the house.
Jim Baird, defending, said Gullett had credit card debts and he later went to the police voluntarily to tell them about the set-up.
“He was prepared to name the person behind it if provided with some form of protection but the police could not give him that assurance,” said the barrister.
“The Crown accept he was being used in this way and the reason he behaved wholly out of character was because of the pressurised situation he was in over his own business and the debts he had amassed.”
Gullett, of Barncliffe Crescent, Fulwood, admitted producing cannabis on February 17.
Recorder Duncan Smith, sitting at Sheffield Crown Court, told Gullett he was not being jailed. “To deprive you of your liberty would bring your business venture to its knees and it would be disproportionate of me.”
Gullett was given a 12-month jail term suspended for a year and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.