A PENSIONER who grew cannabis at home to ease the pain of his skin cancer escaped jail after he won the sympathy of a judge.

Roy Wilkinson, 69, set up equipment and grew plants with a street value of £4,500, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

He has recently undergone weeks of radiotherapy and was facing jail but after Judge Peter Kelson read a letter from Mr Wilkinson's consultant, he said he would not send him to custody.

Mr Kelson said: "Until I read that letter which told me about your carcinoma which occurred in 2009 and again in 2012, despite your age I would have sent you to prison."

Mr Wilkinson was caught by police who raided his former home on Hopwood Street, Barnsley.

Officers found eight cannabis plants in the attic and two further plants in a shed outside.In the attic officers found loose cannabis stalks and leaves, two 600 watt lights, a ventilation fan, power points, an air pump, timer and plant feed, said prosecutor Neil Coxon.

"He told police a number of years previously he had been diagnosed with cancer and around the same time had started to use cannabis for pain relief," said Mr Coxon.

"He estimated he had been using it since around 2005 and that cost him approximately £50 a week. He was in receipt of a state pension and in order to reduce his costs of purchasing the drug he decided to attempt to grow his own."

He told officers he intended to keep one of the plants and planned to sell the remaining plants to recoup his outlay and part-fund his drug operation.

Wilkinson admitted two offences of producing a Class B controlled drug between April 17 and July 18 last year and using cannabis.

Judge Kelson gave Wilkinson a six-month jail term suspended for two years.

Afterwards, Wilkinson said: "My cancer is not life-threatening but I found that smoking cannabis eases the pain.

"I feared going to prison but my wife is not in good health and I need to look after her as well. I can only thank the judge for his leniency."