Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 2, 2003

A sentence of two years' imprisonment for producing cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply, could in the wholly exceptional circumstances be suspended for two years.Appeal, with leave of the single judge, against a total sentence of two years' imprisonment imposed at Winchester Crown Court on 23 May 2003 by HH Judge Longbotham. The defendant ('S') pleaded guilty to producing a class B drug, namely cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply. S's wife ('M') pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the production of cannabis and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years. Confiscation orders were made in identical terms against them. S and M, who were in their 60's, jointly owned farm premises and lived in a flat on those premises. On 7 February 2001 police officers executed a search warrant and found a professional cannabis factory. M suffered from multiple sclerosis which the judge held to be an exceptional circumstance justifying a suspended sentence. S appealed sentence on the ground that as he was M's sole carer he should have been given a suspended sentence.HELD: (1) The offences were very serious and a sentence of two years would not normally be criticised. However, the court had before it evidence that M's condition had worsened and had been exacerbated by proceedings. There was also evidence from her GP that she had fallen several times and should not be left alone. Under the circumstances the court was persuaded to suspend S's sentence for two years. It was wholly exceptional for the court to reach such a decision and it was doubtful that the factual basis would arise in other cases.Appeal allowed.