A DRUG dealer set up a cannabis farm in the house he had lent to his brother, a court heard.

Thomas Johnson initially started growing cannabis plants in an outbuilding at the property on Whalley Avenue, Johnson Fold, but when they grew too big he shifted them into a rear bedroom at the house.

His brother, Terence Robinson, paid for his rent by watering and feeding the 55 large plants, said Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting at Bolton Crown Court.

When police raided the property on March 5 last year they found Robinson and his partner living at the address and experts said that the plants would have yielded 2.22kg of skunk cannabis, valued at up to £19,123 on the streets.

Afterwards, officers visited Johnson’s home in Dunsop Drive, Johnson Fold, where they found nine further plants, which would have yielded 456g of cannabis worth £3,909.

They also recovered a Blackberry phone which revealed messages to and from customers buying the drug.

Mr Wilcock said that Johnson had been growing the cannabis and selling it in £20 deals for about five months, but the father-of-four alleged that he had a heavy cannabis habit himself, using drugs worth up to £30 a day, and so he did not make a profit on the enterprise.

Hunter Gray, defending Johnson, who works for a computer recycling firm, said that he has now stopped taking the drug and drinking alcohol.

He told the court: “He accepts responsibility. He doesn’t try and justify his actions and accepts his involvement in what occurred.”

Johnson, aged 28, of Dunsop Drive, Bolton, pleaded guilty to two counts of producing cannabis and two further counts of abstracting electricity.

His brother, Robinson, aged 30, of Bryn Walk, Johnson Fold, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis.

Judge Peter Davies told the brothers that it was a “hefty” amount of cannabis that they had produced, although he accepted that they were working for someone else.

He added: “Cannabis is a scourge. It is an evil substance, it is a dreadful substance and you involved yourselves in peddling it for personal profit.”

Johnson was jailed for 16 months and Robinson received a nine month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. Robinson must also carry out 100 hours unpaid work.