A drug dealer has been sentenced to write a 5,000-word essay as an alternative to community service.

Terry Bennett of Cold Ashton, Gloucestershire, was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid community work after admitting possession with intent to supply. He was arrested with 1kg of cannabis.

At Bristol Court Court, judge Julian Lambert ordered the former plumber to write the essay when he discovered that the defedant's injured shoulder prevented him doing physical work. Bennett had no previous convictions.

Bennett, 32, said: "It was a shock to be given such an unusual punishment. It's been ages since I last wrote an essay.

"I asked the judge if I could write a balanced argument for and against cannabis, but he said that since it's illegal, I should only write about the bad things.

"I'm just going to write about certain dangers caused by cannabis that people might not necessarily know."

His piece must focus on how cannabis can cause psychosis, the cost to the taxpayer, its adulteration with dangerous substances including ground glass and the alleged link to cancer.

The father-of-two said: "I've already done a bit of research.

"I've got a drugs conviction so for me to take on a more serious role in society it is imperative that I prove I am clean and steering clear of cannabis, purely because it is illegal."

In addition to the essay, Bennett is also under a four-month curfew, restricting his movements between 8pm and 8am.