Vi­o­lent gang turn home into drug farm

MUM AND SON IN COURT

Sunday Sun - - News - By Ian John­son ian.john­son01@reach­plc.com @IanJohn­sonChron

Re­porter IN agony, a mum tried grow­ing cannabis in a des­per­ate bid to ease her pain.

In­stead, Su­san But­ler brought a vi­o­lent world filled with knives and guns to her front door.

The 49-year-old wept un­con­trol­lably as a court heard she was slashed in her own home as her botched bid to ‘grow-her-own’ turned into a liv­ing hell.

The fi­bromyal­gia suf­ferer, hav­ing heard won­ders about cannabis oil, planned to grow six plants for medic­i­nal pur­poses.

So, along with son Christo­pher, they set about creat­ing a farm in their South Shields home.

“That failed,” pros­e­cu­tors.

“Some­one from the out­side came in to set up the whole op­er­a­tion and they were prac­ti­cally sit­ting ducks when the po­lice ar­rived.”

What started as six plants mush­roomed into a whop­ping 48 plants.

South Ty­ne­side Mag­is­trates’ Court heard while Su­san was in Thai­land un­der­go­ing an op­er­a­tion, her son was in his room as shady fig­ures roamed through their Bramham Court home turn­ing it into a drug den.

The 25-year-old knew about the cannabis, the court heard, but not ad­mit­ted that those in­volved were dodgy.

“He agreed to wa­ter and feed the plants, but he was not aware of the sin­is­ter el­e­ment,” added Ian Cas­sidy, de­fend­ing.

When she re­turned from Asia, she was hor­ri­fied to see the size of the il­le­gal farm and told her son they would have to get it out of the house. But the crooks weren’t hav­ing it. A thinly-veiled threat was made that, if the fam­ily told any­one about it, they would “come for you”. It was then the mum and son re­alised they were in over their heads.

Dis­abled Su­san had only wanted the drug to ease the pain from her PROS­E­CU­TORS

fi­bromyal­gia, a long-term con­di­tion which leaves the en­tire body riddled with pain.

“She had been given in­for­ma­tion that cannabis would ben­e­fit her symp­toms,” said Mr Cas­sidy.

“For some rea­son she de­cided the only thing she could do is take cannabis, ev­ery­thing else gave her side ef­fects.”

He branded her an “extremely gullible” per­son, a trait which would ul­ti­mately have hor­ri­fy­ing re­pur­cus­sions.

Her son warned her not to let peo­ple in the house as the sit­u­a­tion in­ten­si­fied be­tween the sides.

How­ever, 30 min­utes af­ter that warn­ing, there was a knock at the door from peo­ple ask­ing about her clean­ing busi­ness.

“The man forces his way in and he has a gun,” said Mr Cas­sidy.

“He has a knife and he slashes her.”

In­juries from that at­tack, court heard, were still there.

As the or­deal was re­lived in court, the usher passed Su­san a tis­sue as she sobbed, her hands trem­bling.

Grip­ping her son’s hand as they pleaded guilty to be­ing con­cerned in pro­duc­tion of grow­ing cannabis, Christo­pher then spent Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing with his arm around her, whis­per­ing sup­port.

When Northum­bria Po­lice be­came in­volved back in March, the pair were ar­rested al­though the court heard they had in­ves­ti­gated the ringlead- the

ers.

The court heard though that the “trail has gone cold” on that probe.

The But­lers had faced pos­si­ble prison sen­tences for their role but mag­is­trates, cit­ing the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” cir­cum­stances, stepped back.

In­stead they fined the pair, both on ben­e­fits, £120 each.

In mit­i­ga­tion it was said both were pre­vi­ously un­con­victed. The mum had a cau­tion for af­fray.

Both must also pay £85 costs and a £30 charge.

Chris and Su­san But­ler leave South Ty­ne­side Mag­is­trates’ Court

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