PAIN from gout in his joints led a man to make “ham fisted” attempts to grow cannabis, a court heard.

Keith Ralphson was ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid work after admitting producing cannabis at his home in Red Lane, Breightmet.

William Donnelly, prosecuting at Bolton Crown Court yesterday, said police called at Ralphson’s home on December 16 last year and found a setup for growing the illegal drug in an outbuilding.

Tents and lighting equipment had been erected and 21 plants were there, although only two plants were of a significant size, together capable of producing just 40g of cannabis. “It was a relatively unsophisticated and somewhat ham fisted operation,” said Mr Donnelly.

Ralphson, aged 53, told police he consumed most of the drug himself, although he had given some to his partner and a friend.

Andrew Costello, defending, told Recorder Paul O’Brien that unemployed Ralphson had used the cannabis as treatment for gout pain, which had gone undiagnosed until recently.

He added that Ralphson, who is £14,500 in debt, was petrified at the prospect of going to jail.

As well as the unpaid work, Ralphson was ordered to take part in 10 activity sessions