Police found a £10,000 cannabis farm when they were called to a trainee funeral director’s flat to investigate a leak.
Officers broke into the property at Prince Edward Road, South Shields, on May 24 after a report from a shop below that water was coming through the ceiling.
Newcastle Crown Court heard a total of 43 cannabis plants were found growing in the flat, which 25-year-old Andrew Laycock had leased solely for that purpose.
Laycock, of Alverthorpe Street, South Shields, admitted producing cannabis and abstracting electricity on the basis he was paid £500 to lease the flat and help set up the farm on behalf of dealers.
Paul Rowland, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant accepts he took up the tenancy at that premises knowing that the premises would be used for the production of cannabis or a cannabis farm.
“He accepts he helped set up the apparatus inside the premises, and the cannabis would be produced for the benefit of a third party, who he was not willing to name.”
The court heard the cannabis plants found growing inside the farm would have produced around 946g of the drug, worth an estimated £10,500.
Vic Laffey, defending, said Laycock has a full-time job and trains as a funeral director at weekends, and has not been in trouble before.
Mr Laffey said: “The fact of the matter is he is a decent lad who did something very, very foolish.
“He did know what was going to happen. He did initially help carry apparatus into the flat, but he never went back after that point.”
Mr Laffey said Laycock has been “terrified” by going through the court process and will not get into trouble again.
Mr Recorder Steven Coupland told him: “What was involved was a serious amount of cannabis of significant value, and you facilitated that by your stupidity.
“You could go to prison for this.
“All your good work could be washed away simply because you decided £500 was something you needed.”
The judge sentenced Laycock to a community order with 100 hours unpaid work.