A KESWICK market worker began selling cannabis - advertising the drug on Facebook - because he was struggling to pay his rent, magistrates were told.

When Benjamin Davies Bland, 38, was arrested on February 13, police searched him and found he was carrying ten individually wrapped packages of the class B drug. They also found evidence on his phone that he was selling the drug.

At Carlisle's Rickergate Magistrates' Court, Bland, of Helvellyn Street, Keswick, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

John Moran, prosecuting, said the defendant was charged with that offence because the way the cannabis was packaged and the incriminating text messages.

The prosecution regarded Bland as street dealer.

Mr Moran added: "The Crown say he played a significant role on the basis that the defendant clearly has some awareness of the extent and scale of the operation and an expectation of significant financial gain.""

Bland's previous convictions include a drug driving offence.

John Smith, defending, said the defendant estimated the drugs he was carrying weighed 7g, and had a street value of £70 - £30 less than the value ascribed quoted by police.

Such offences are often categorised according to the weight of drugs found.

The category of seriousness given to Bland's offence usually required a minimum of three kilos of cannabis, said Mr Smith.

The lawyer described Bland's attempt to advertise drug on Facebook as "amateurish".

Mr Smith then explained how Bland - whose work on local markets dried up during the pandemic - was under pressure to pay his rent.

When a friend suggested selling cannabis to raise funds, he took that "helpful" advice.

Mr Smith continued: "He sufferers from Asperger's and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and the pandemic has had an adverse effect on his health.

"He was having difficulty paying his rent."

It was as Bland waited for his housing benefit to come through that he started selling cannabis.

Bland was now working at Keswick's market two days a week on a hog-roast stall, said Mr Smith.

After hearing representations, magistrates said their sentencing powers were not sufficient and sent the case to Carlisle Crown Court for a hearing on November 9.

Bland was granted bail.