A POULTRY farmer ran a cannabis production and supply centre in a farm outbuilding, York Crown Court heard.

Ian Howard, prosecuting, said Peter Holtby’s plants were capable of growing enough cannabis to fetch up to £122,000 in street deals.

David Camidge, defending, said the 59-year-old farmer used the drug because he found it better at dealing with his chronic back pain than prescription medicine.

He also supplied it to “like-minded souls”.

Holtby, of Leavening near Malton, pleaded guilty to cannabis production and possessing cannabis with intent to supply it. He has a previous cannabis conviction.

He was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years on condition he does 120 hours’ unpaid work.

“If you were younger and in good health and selling cannabis for profit, I would have locked you up,” the Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC, told him.

“I hope you have learnt your lesson.”

Mr Howard said police smelt a “strong” smell of cannabis when a civil enforcement officer was serving a writ on the property near Malton and saw a large quantity of discarded cannabis in the garden.

Holtby led them to the outbuilding where he had 18 plants and a hydroponic system to grow them.

Mr Camidge said Holtby, who reared chickens and geese, had had back pain for many years and a severe chest infection since 1992.

He was awaiting surgery which had been delayed by his move from East to North Yorkshire.

The court also heard that his mental health was suffering because of vandalism and theft on the farm by local youths.