UK Jury clears man accused of growing cannabis for his wife
The Independent (UK): Saturday, April 04, 1998


A man accused of growing and giving cannabis to his wife, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, was yesterday cleared by a jury's majority verdict of cultivating, cultivating with intent to supply, and supplying the drug.

Cab driver Alan Blythe, 52, of Runcorn, Cheshire, had used the defence of duress of circumstances, which the jury at Warrington Crown Court accepted.

He claimed he had grown the cannabis and supplied it to his wife Judith, 48, because he was afraid that without it the acute symptoms of MS could trigger her suicide.

The jury ignored the judge's suggestion that Mr Blythe had failed to prove duress of circumstances for the charge of cultivation. But they followed this advice in relation to possession, for which Mr Blythe was fined 100.

Afterwards, Mr Blythe said: "I don't know what to say. I am so relieved. I do not think the prosecution should have been brought. I think they should have dropped the charges when the defence asked them to months ago.

"They said it was going to be a waste of taxpayers' money and it was."

He said his wife, who was too ill to attend court and hear the verdict, had also been very relieved when he told her the news on the phone.

He vowed that he would not be able to stop supplying his wife with the Class B drug.

"I have never stopped giving her cannabis and I never will," he said.

The trial had heard that 10 cannabis plants, pots of cannabis bush heads and a variety of growing equipment were found during a police raid on the Blythes' house in July last year.

In evidence, Mr Blythe described how his wife was diagnosed with the debilitating and terminal MS in 1983, 15 years after they married, and her condition steadily worsened.

Prescription drugs did little to help and her main symptom, acute attacks of dizziness, culminated in one three-week period in 1989 when she was bedridden, virtually unable to move.

On Thursday, Mrs Blythe told the court: "I had a very severe attack in 1989 and it was so severe I wanted to die. I wanted someone to kill me.

"I felt as though I had been thrown into a bottomless pit at 100mph and I couldn't even move my eyeballs. Every time I moved, I was back in this bottomless pit being thrown around."

Asked about what happened after the attack by defending counsel Andrew Mattison, Mr Blythe said: "We talked in depth about finishing her life and she said she would not be able to live through that again and, of course, I told her I could never kill her.

"After the worst attack she had, we discussed it over a period of months with me telling her I would definitely never be able to kill her. As time went by she told me that one of her friends, one of our friends, would help her to die ... she made it clear she would die if she went through that again."

It was two or three years later that the couple tried cannabis after reading a magazine article discussing claims that it had beneficial effects for MS sufferers.

A judge has allowed a liver transplant patient to go free after he admitted growing and using cannabis to ease his pain. Sympathising with him, Judge John Hopkin said: "I accept thats why you were growing it; to relieve the considerable pain you must suffer. That is against the law as it stands at the present time, but there is very substantial mitigation in your case."

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