A MARRIED man grew and sold cannabis to keep up a lifestyle he had while he and his wife worked, a court heard.

David Colley, 48, walked free today (Tuesday, November 27) but was told by a bewildered judge: “You are old enough to know better.”

Contract worker Colley, from Middlesbrough, was told he was being spared prison because he now had another job.

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“Rather than burden the taxpayer, it is better you continue in work and remain a taxpayer,” said Judge Peter Armstrong.

“You had a bad record as a younger man, but in recent years you have been doing your best to live a law-abiding life.”

Teesside Crown Court heard how a raid on Colley's home in January uncovered a cannabis farm in a utility room.

Colley told police it had been set up by another man, for whom he also sold drugs when he fell on hard times.

In an interview, he confessed that he wanted to maintain a lifestyle he had been used to after walking out on a job.

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said: “He has now resumed stability within the home as a result of his new employment.

“He realises his mistake in thinking that this was a legitimate way of getting an income. The penny has dropped.”

Colley, of Cavendish Road, admitted supplying, producing and possessing with intent to supply Class B drugs.

He was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge Armstrong told him: “Both you and your wife lost your jobs and had enjoyed a good standard of living.

“The error you made was to try to keep that up instead of tightening your belt. You tried to keep it up by illegal means.

“For you to become a cannabis dealer at your age and without any involvement in drugs beggars belief.

“Your wife must have been tearing her hair out at this.”