Seventy-four-year-old Sydney Youngs was handed a two-year sentence suspended for 24 months on Monday after admitting to cannabis possession in a plot likened to the hit TV show Breaking Bad.
"That young man had died having debts and had what is commonly known as a pauper's funeral," she told Hull crown court.
"Mr Youngs saw the impact of that funeral on his family and how they had to pick up those debts.
"He was upset by this and the devastating effect on his family. He was concerned that he would leave his debt to his family as well."
It was at that point that Youngs began growing cannabis in home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, the Daily Mail reported.
Having pleaded guilty, the charity shop volunteer suffered a third heart attack on the day he was due to be sentenced, the Mail said.
When sentencing, recorder Eric Elliott QC referenced the fact Youngs had spent time in prison for theft and wounding with intent in 1960s and 70s, but said he had decided to be lenient given the pensioner's health.
He concluded: "At the age of 74, it's very sad to see a man who had managed to turn his life around back in court facing a charge like this."
Richard James is acting head of news for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.
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