A scaffolder who broke both his legs in a fall turned to cannabis dealing during the two years he was unable to work.

Exeter Crown Court heard that Leon Lewis started using cannabis to cope with the pain of his injuries but then became a supplier to make money to pay off debts.

He was caught by chance when police stopped him in Bideford. The officers smelled cannabis in the car and found 55 grams under the passenger seat.

A further 240 grams were found at his home in Torrington along with a total of £1,495 cash.

Lewis, aged 36, of Castle Hill Gardens, Torrington, admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply and was sentenced to for eight months in jail, suspended for two years by Judge Peter Johnson.

He was ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activities in which the probation service will help him stay away from cannabis use.

He told him: “You started up a business and while doing a favour you suffered serious injuries in July 2018. That led to you going off the straight and narrow and setting up a cannabis dealing business.

“The scale is shown by the sums of money and quantities of drugs referred to in the messages on your phone.”

Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said Lewis was pulled over by police in Bideford on December 16 last year and searches of his car and home showed he was dealing cannabis.

He had a dealer’s list of people who owed him money, £2,955 worth of cannabis and £1,495. He told police he was just swapping with friends but admitted dealing when shown the evidence.

Nigel Wraith, defending, said Lewis had devoted himself to family life after the birth of his first child 15 years ago and continued to support his ex-partner when they split up.

He set up his own scaffolding business four years ago but then broke both legs in a fall and spent time in a wheelchair. He is hoping to re-start work soon after a long recovery.

Mr Wraith said Lewis struggled to cope with the boredom of not working and began using cannabis recreationally and for pain relief.

It led him to run up debts which he paid off by becoming a dealer himself.