Senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier instructed counsel Harry Hewitt from 5 St Andrews Hill Chambers in a case listed for Crown Court trial at Nottingham Crown Court. Sarah’s client faced allegations of
- possession of criminal property
- abstracting electricity
- production of cannabis, and
- supply of cannabis.
The case for the prosecution
The cannabis had been found by police at his home address and was a relatively large amount – 8 ounces or 230 grams in what the police said were single ounce deals. The police also found large plastic containers that had traces of cannabis inside along with £2000 cash. The electricity meter at the address had been bypassed.
Our client also owned a second address. When this was searched by the police approximately 200 cannabis plants were found growing at the address. The meter had been bypassed. The police said that the manner of the bypass was the same as at the other address. Two others were arrested at this address.
Finally, when our client’s phone was examined by the police there were a large number of photographs of cannabis plants being grown.
Our client’s defence at Crown Court Trial
Our client accepted possession of the cannabis and the abstraction of electricity at his home address. He denied responsibility for any of the other offences and maintained the following:
- the cannabis seized from his home address was his and was for personal use
- he used about four to six ounces of cannabis per week as self-medication for pain relief
- it was boiled it in a bain-marie and drank it with milk
- this had been given to the police when they came to his home, along with the plastic tubs which he had used to store the cannabis in
- the £2,000 cash was legitimate cash from his businesses from which he earned at least £200 000 per year.
- he denied knowing that cannabis was being grown at his second address
- he denied knowledge of the photos on his phone
In order to prepare the case for trial, Sarah instructed expert witnesses Emmersons Associates to inspect the electricity meters to look for similarities. The police has mislaid one of the meters so the impact of any examination was limited.
Medical evidence was obtained outlining the various ailments that our client suffered from and which cannabis was said to alleviate.
Pleas accepted and conditional discharge followed
Once the case was fully prepared and the helpful evidence served on the prosecution, we reminded the prosecution that our client was offering pleas to simple possession of cannabis and abstracting electricity. This time the pleas were accepted.
Our client was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge for both offences.
Confiscation proceedings avoided
The fact that we put the prosecution in a position where the offered pleas were accepted meant that our client avoided an almost inevitable prison sentence and confiscation proceedings. Had be been convicted of any of the other offences then the prosecution would have examined his finances for the 6 years prior to the offence in order to try and confiscate assets that could not easily be explained.
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