A MAN gave his landlord a supply of illegal drugs as a way of paying off his debt when he fell behind with his rent, Carlisle Crown Court has heard.

Mark Hawkins, 35, found himself owing “a significant amount” to 38-year-old Darren Allen while renting a room at his home in Castlefield, Ambleside, prosecutor Dick Binstead told the court.

So he asked him if he would accept some cannabis instead of cash, telling him he could sell it to raise money in lieu of the rent.

But the police raided the house on March 30 last year and arrested both men after finding drugs in their rooms.

And the pair stood side by side in the dock on Monday after pleading guilty to drug-dealing offences.

Hawkins, whose latest address was listed as Rydal Road, Ambleside, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, supplying it, and possessing the class B drug with intent to supply it.

He also admitted possessing a small amount of cocaine, a class A drug, for his own use.

Allen pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply it.

Mr Binstead told the court that when the police raided the house both men were there.

Hawkins was in his bedroom, where they found nearly £400-worth of cannabis in bags, and six cannabis seedlings growing in pots in a cupboard.

In Allen’s room, Mr Binstead said, they found £1,868-worth of cannabis, which had been given to him by his tenant.

“It seems that for two months Mr Hawkins had not been paying any rent, which left Mr Allen in a certain amount of financial difficulty,” he said.

“So he agreed to deal in Mr Hawkins’s cannabis, with any profit he made serving to offset the rent he was owed.”

The court heard that neither man had any significant previous convictions.

Allen – described by his lawyer as “a shy, lacking-in-confidence bookshop worker” – had never been in court before, while Hawkins had just one conviction for drug use.

Hawkins was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and made to attend drug rehabilitation sessions for six months.

Allen was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.

Both men will be under the supervision of probation officers for a year.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing, at which they could be made to pay back any profits they mkade from their crimes, will be held on June 14.