Police Mistake Widow's Tomato Plants for Cannabis Factory
By Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 7:21AM GMT 27 Nov 2008
Police raided a 79-year-old widow's Highland cottage after mistaking her tomato plants for a cannabis factory, it was reported.
The officers burst in with sniffer dogs and took samples of the plants for analysis.
Lulu Matheson, who has lived in the property in Shieldaig for 53 years, said she was shaken up by the encounter.
Mrs Matheson told the Daily Mail: "I got a terrible fright and I couldn't understand what they were doing here because I knew we had nothing more than tomatoes in the window. I don't know what the neighbours must be thinking."
Her 47-year-old son Gus, a former driver, was looking out of the window when he saw police cars stop outside.
He said: "I wondered what on earth was going on. I opened the door and they more or less barged past, saying that I was growing cannabis on the windowsills.
"I started laughing because I knew they were tomato plants but it wasn't so funny when they frisked me and then started tearing the house apart."
Mr Matheson said he was held in the bedroom while officers searched the furniture and under the mattress. He also said that the police impounded the family's pet dogs.
"They even 'arrested' Zac, our black labrador, and Moby, our Jack Russell, putting them in the back of one of the cop cars," Mr Matheson added.
"And I just couldn't believe it when they brought sniffer dogs all the way from Alness, which is about two hours away."
He went on: "Despite leaving with their tails between their legs, the police didn't even apologise."
Mr Matheson, a keen gardener, grows tomatoes in the south-facing bedroom window.
He said: "We always enjoy having a juicy home-grown tomato with our dinner and I've had fine crops this year."
Mr Matheson is now making a formal complaint to Northern Constabulary.
A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that, acting on information, we attended at an address in the Shieldaig area.
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