A "green-fingered" man with a background in electrical engineering avoided jail today after admitting growing 40 cannabis plants in his Oxford home.

Oxford Crown Court heard Leonardo Wieland, of Henley Road, Sandford-on-Thames, cultivated the drugs after learning about horticulture from his parents, who earn a living growing orchids in South Africa.

Wieland, 31, admitted producing Class C drugs at a hearing at Oxford Magistrates' Court last month.

Jonathan Stone, prosecuting, said police raided the house where Wieland was staying in Greater Leys on November 14 last year and found the plants in an upstairs bedroom and attic.

He said: "It was a professional set-up. All the usual things were there - bright lights, water butts and so on."

Graham Russell, defending, said: "The defendant comes from a family of people with green fingers. His mother and father are professional orchid growers.

"He knows how these things work. He has been brought up around hydroponic equipment."

Mr Russell added Wieland also had a background in electrical engineering but was now a trainee tent maker.

He said the cannabis was for Wieland's personal use, but he had recently made efforts to kick his addiction.

Handing him a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, Mr Recorder Harold Persaud said: "I don't recall having to sentence anyone with green fingers where their green fingers have got them into trouble - you are the first."

He ordered Wieland to pay £275 costs and undertake 40 hours of unpaid work.