Nottingham crime solicitor Nick Walsh represented a client appearing before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court charged with permitting her premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis.
No legal representation in police interview
She had not chosen to seek free and independent legal advice in her interview with the police. She had made admissions to the offence and had told the police that she had been promised payment by those growing the cannabis.
At the time of the offence, Nick’s client was 19 years old and had never been in trouble with the police or the courts.
Cultivation of cannabis valued at £15 000
The prosecution valued the cannabis as having a resale value in small deals of £15 000. The sentencing guidelines relevant to this offence of permitting her premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis suggested that the starting point for the court when considering sentence was a prison sentence of 12 months. Although our client could expect a reduction for the fact that she had not been in trouble before and because of her early admissions the court would still be considering custody.
Substantial personal mitigation
Nick spent the time needed to discover that his client had substantial personal mitigation. She had been put under pressure to allow an ex partner to grow cannabis in the loft. She believed that there were only five plants. When she found out the true scale of the operation she became very frightened. She had considered telling her dad. However, she had been threatened that if she did both she and her child would be in danger.
She was also told that if the drugs were lost as a result of her actions then she would incur a drug debt to the value of the drugs. Once the police had seized the drugs our client left her home and was homeless. Despite this, she had gone on to complete her college course and found a job.
Powerful and persuasive advocacy
Through Nick’s persuasive advocacy, the court felt able to depart significantly from the sentencing guideline. Instead of a prison sentence, or a suspended sentence order or community order, the court imposed a conditional discharge for two years. This means that unless she commits a further offence during that period she will not be punished for allowing her premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis.
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