Violent gang turn home into drug farm
MUM AND SON IN COURT
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
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