A MAN, who set up a business selling cannabis because he couldn’t find a job, has escaped an immediate prison term.

Michael Prout, of Nook Lane, admitted to selling the drugs but said he had only sold the cannabis to his friends at Warrington Crown Court on Thursday.

The court heard how the 29-year-old was driving his car in Latchford on November 1, 2013, at around 6pm when he was pulled over by police.

After officers found 838 milligrams of cannabis in the car, Prout’s home address was searched after he admitted that more drugs could be found there.

Three bags of cannabis with a total of 14.8g, two bags with a total of 15.3g and four bags with a total of 111g were found at his home, which had a street value of £1,660.

More than £2,000 in cash and drugs paraphernalia were also discovered.

Defending, Kirsten Ward, urged Judge Roger Dutton to give him the chance to build a new life and not send him to prison where he would be surrounded with old friends.

She said: “He wants to build a good honest life now. He does have the choice to turn his life around.

“At the time he had lost his employment but he admits that it was a thoroughly bad choice.”

Despite not offending since 2003, Prout had a lengthy list of previous convictions and offences, which includes shop lifting, burglary, stealing and handling stolen goods.

But Judge Dutton said a prison sentence was inevitable as he had been selling the drugs as a business to make money but said he did have the option to suspend it.

He added: “Many people have difficulties with work and other issues but they do not turn to crime. They make an honest living, working hard, doing the best they can.”

Prout was handed an eight month sentence, which was suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of voluntary work.