Drug mushroom pair acquitted Oct 21 2004
By Adam Jupp, The Evening Chronicle
Two chip-shop owners have been cleared of pushing Class-A drugs after the pair claimed they did not know their action was illegal.
Thariq Mohammed, 34, and his brother Sajit, 31, admitted selling magic mushrooms alongside fish suppers from their shop, the Happy Chippy, on Waterloo Street, Newcastle.
But the brothers, who once displayed signs saying "new magic mushrooms - get off your head", were let off because of a legal loophole.
Magistrates had ruled that the mushrooms were a Class-A drug and were being illegally sold in plastic bags.
But the brothers were cleared after the court accepted they did not realise they were doing anything illegal.
Now they hope to start selling mushrooms again in their new shop, directly opposite the Happy Chippy, which has been pulled down under a compulsory purchase order by the city council.
Thariq said: "We always knew we were going to be found not guilty, and the sad thing is this has dragged on and hung over us for 18 months.
"We admitted selling the mushrooms under the Government guidelines provided to us by the Home Office and police officers at the time. If the guidelines are made clearer I'll look into selling them again."
Under British law it is legal to possess and sell magic mushrooms only if they are in their natural state.
The Home Office has said selling them only becomes an offence if the mushrooms are in some way prepared, which could include being dried out, cooked or frozen.
Magistrates ruled that the fungi sold by the brothers were Class-A and could be described as a product because they had been chilled and were being sold in plastic bags.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "The defendants were found in possession of vegetable matter found to contain psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms. One of the issues here was whether the magic mushrooms were a `product'.
"It was decided the mushrooms were an illegal drug under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971".