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Judge is criticised for drugs comment

By Abrad, Aug 3, 2006 | | |
  1. Abrad
    www.oxfordmail.net
    [​IMG]
    A judge has been criticised for suggesting that people who use their homes as drug factories are no more of a nuisance than those who cultivate tomato plants.

    Judge Charles Harris questioned whether council tenant Phillip Pledge was causing anti-social behaviour by growing and storing cannabis of a street value totalling £3,400 at his flat in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

    He also compared the nuisance value of growing cannabis to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes taking drugs in the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    The judge's comments, made during an Antisocial Behaviour Order hearing at Oxford Crown Court yesterday, left community leaders baffled.
    continued...

    Blackbird Leys councillor Lee Cole, of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA), who campaigns against the social damage of drug use in his area, said: "It sounds like he's been on something himself. The judge seems to have lost his mind.

    "Cultivating cannabis attracts the wrong type of people to your house. And neighbours, especially in a place like a tower block, have to put up with them knocking on doors all the time."

    Barry Beadle, area manager for Oxford drugs counselling group Libra Project, said: "In the short term he is probably right but in the long term the production and cultivation of illegal drugs will have anti-social effect to the individual and the community."

    The judge's comments, which we have reproduced in full below, were made at a hearing brought by Oxford City Council against Pledge, of Strawberry Path in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, who allegedly broke his tenancy agreement by storing drugs in a council flat.

    Police raided the flat in Evenlode Tower in February where Pledge was temporarily housed after an arson attack on his home.

    They discovered cannabis plants growing under hydroponic lights and drugs with a street value of £3,400 and weighing 21.1oz.

    Prosecuting, Simon Strelitz, told the court by storing and growing drugs, Pledge broke his tenancy agreement .

    He asked the judge for a possession order for the council house in Strawberry Path and an Asbo banning Pledge from Blackbird Leys for two years.

    He added: "The city council is not prepared to allow its property to harbour people who wish to commit offences.

    "The fact that he has drugs in such quantity acts as a magnet for other unsavoury characters."

    After making his remarks, Judge Harris also called the Asbo application "the sort of thing they do in Russia or China".

    Defending himself, Pledge, a business partner in Oxford Hydroponics and a driver for the National Blood Service, told the court the drugs were for personal use.

    He added: "I've not dealt drugs and it's never been proven that I dealt drugs. I am a partner in a hydroponics shop which carries a certain stigma with it.

    "I've been trying to get a move away for two years and been trying to wean myself off cannabis. The only reason I went back to the cannabis was because of the traumatic experience when my house burnt down."

    Pledge remains on bail for possession of class C drugs with intent to supply.

    Judge Harris told the court he would reserve judgement on the case until Monday.

Comments

  1. The Doors
    Is this a joke? There are probably a few people in each neighbourhood growing marijuana and no one would ever know it. I don't see what's so wrong about growing your own plants for your personnal use. Or just to grow it as a plant in the garden, it is a beautiful plant and is quite unique...


    I like how the judge acted on this, so far anyway... Hopefully he doesn't get forced and threatened to retract his comments or have to explain himself.
  2. Alfa
    If anyone finds more articles about this, please post. This article is very confusing and misses vital facts. I gather the man just had a few plants in a small box, not anything like a growing operation.
  3. Abrad
    Cultivating cannabis? It's like growing tomatoes, says judge

    www.timesonline.co.uk
    A JUDGE has refused to impose an antisocial behaviour order on a man cultivating cannabis because it is “no worse than having tomato plants”.

    He also told Oxford City Council, who applied for the ASBO, that it was “the sort of thing they do in Russia or China”.

    Twelve cannabis plants, worth £3,400, were discovered growing under special hydroponic lights at Phillip Pledge’s council flat. The council sought a possession order for the National Blood Service driver’s home and an ASBO banning him from the housing estate for two years.

    Judge Charles Harris, QC, refused both applications, saying that smoking cannabis did not constitute a nuisance. The judge said: “Smoking or possession of a quantity of cannabis, though a criminal offence, does not constitute a nuisance.

    “For some reason the Crown Prosecution Service has not charged Mr Pledge. He was arrested and released. If there is evidence against the defendant he should be brought before a criminal court.”

    The plants were found on the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford during a police raid in February. The city council said that Mr Pledge was causing “alarm, harassment and distress” to his neighbours by growing the marijuana.

    Simon Strelitz, for the council, said that Mr Pledge had broken his tenancy agreement by storing and growing the drug. He told Oxford County Court: “The city council is not prepared to allow its property to harbour people who wish to commit offences. The fact that he has drugs in such quantity acts as a magnet for other unsavoury characters.”

    Mr Pledge, a business partner in Oxford Hydroponics, represented himself in court.

    He said that the drugs were for personal use, and added: “I’ve not dealt drugs and it’s never been proven that I dealt drugs. I am a partner in a hydroponics shop, which carries a certain stigma with it. I’ve been trying to get a move away for two years and been trying to wean myself off cannabis.”

    Judge Harris said: “If you are Sherlock Holmes and you go back to Baker Street and inject yourself with cocaine, as he did, you cannot be called a nuisance. So quietly smoking cannabis at home, not that it is to be encouraged, I’m not sure at all it constitutes a nuisance. If you are simply growing it, it’s no more offensive to neighbours than tomato plants.”

    A spokesman for Oxford City Council said that it would be appealing against the decision.
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