AN unemployed man who stole electricity to grow cannabis will take at least eight years to clear his debt unless he gets a job in the meantime.

Mark Douglas owes British Gas £2,223 for electricity he abstracted to grow cannabis and a judge has now made a compensation order to allow the company to recover the debt.

The 35-year-old from Kingsland appeared before Recorder Allan Dooley at Worcester Crown Court last week.

Anthony Cartin, prosecuting, said the defendant had few assets via which the debt could be recovered and asked the judge to make a compensation order in the full amount on behalf of British Gas.

Nicholas O’Brien, defending, asked that the debt be discharged at a rate of £5 per week which Recorder Mr Dooley said would mean it would take the defendant eight years to pay it off.

Mr O’Brien said: “As he’s on benefits that’s probably all he can afford.”

The Recorder said: “This was electricity abstracted for the purpose of growing cannabis. I see from the report you’re an intelligent chap. You appreciate that you owe money to British Gas for having abstracted that electricity dishonestly in the past.”

He said he agreed to make a compensation order at £5 per week with ‘some reluctance’.

“I simply mention that it’s in his interest to get rid of the debt as soon as possible,” he added.