Cannabis Campaigners' Guide News Database result:
UK: Jail term cut for back pain man who grew own cannabis (Winston Matthews)
Tuesday 24 Apr 2012
Pro-cannabis campaigner Winston Matthews, 55, of Upfield Close, Horley, took his case to the Court of Appeal last Thursday (April 19) and had his jail term cut from 16 to 12 months.
The appeal court heard that Matthews - who previously admitted breaching a suspended sentence, three counts of cultivating cannabis and two of possessing the drug - was due to receive a deferred sentence at Guildford Crown Court in February, so he could get help for his addiction, but was instead sent to prison after saying he would "struggle" not to take cannabis.
But senior judges have now reduced the sentence, ruling that the original term was "too long".
Judge Paul Batty QC, sitting with Lord Justice Pill and Mr Justice Spencer, said Matthews was first given a suspended sentence in August 2010 after 56 cannabis plants were found in his home.
His flat was searched by police later that month, and again in December that year, and a further 42 plants were discovered during those two raids.
Matthews was told he would receive a deferred sentence, in order to give him a chance to find alternative pain relief and stop using cannabis.
But, speaking directly to Judge Christopher Critchlow at Guildford Crown Court on February 3 this year, Matthews said he could not guarantee that he would stop using cannabis to alleviate his pain.
He was jailed three days later by Judge Suzan Matthews, who said she had no other option but to send him to prison due to his "persistent" offending.
Challenging the 16-month jail term last week, Matthews' lawyers argued Judge Matthews did not take enough account of his physical and mental problems which had led to him using cannabis for pain relief.
Barrister Ben Cooper said his client grew his own drugs in order to "bypass" criminals and used cannabis because he had chronic back pain, following an accident as a teenager, and a depressive illness.
Mr Cooper said Matthews was not eligible for a cannabis-based prescription drug as it is currently only given to Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, but that he had taken steps towards finding a lawful alternative form of pain relief.
Judge Batty said Matthews did deserve to go to prison, but that the sentence should have been shorter as it was his first jail term.
He added: "Even where cultivation is for the defendant's own use then custody is almost inevitable. The courts have tried and tried again so far as this appellant is concerned to avoid a custodial sentence.
"No matter what the personal mitigation may be, the time has to come at some point when custody cannot be avoided and that time has come for this appellant.
"That said, this is the appellant's first sentence of imprisonment and we have sympathy for his position.
"We think it is possible to slightly mitigate the length of the sentence without in any way criticising the perfectly proper approach the judge took in this case."
After you have finished reading this article you can click here to go back.
This page was created by the Cannabis Campaigners' Guide.
Feel free to link to this page!