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Suspended jail term for MS sufferer sent drug

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A MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence in the Royal Court after attempting to import a Class A drug to deal with her pain.

Supporters and pro-legalising cannabis campaigners applaud to support Christine Smith as she arrives to be sentenced by the Royal Court. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 22876522)

Christine Iris Smith, 65, who had previously given an address at La Nouvelle Maraitaine, Maraitaine Road, pleaded guilty to illegally importing the Class A drug tetrahydrocannabinol – a cannabis derived substance.

The court heard how she had been diagnosed with the disease five years ago and had been sent the drug in the post by a friend to help her symptoms, which include pain and memory loss.

The syringe containing 5g of the drug was intercepted by Customs officers at the post office.

In sentencing, Judge Graeme McKerrell, sitting as Lieutenant Bailiff, said the fact the drug was for personal use and to deal with a medical condition was limited mitigation.

‘However you look at it, it [the drug] added to the stock of drugs on the island,’ he said.

‘You took the law into your own hands and that was simply not acceptable.’

He added that court had to send a strong message to ensure the judgement did not encourage others to break the law.

He handed down a sentence of two years in prison, which was suspended for two years. Mrs Smith was a person of good character and had no previous similar convictions on her record.

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A crowd of campaigners gathered on the steps of the Royal Court to show their support for Mrs Smith and the right to use cannabis, and the public gallery was full.

The court took the unusual step of broadcasting the case on a television in the court reception, so the people who could not fit in the public gallery could follow the live proceedings.

As Mrs Smith left the court, she was surrounded by friends, family and supporters. She made no comment to the media.

One of the campaigners was Aindre Reece-Sheerin, who watched proceedings from the public gallery. He believes cannabis should be available medicinally.

He said the court had made the right decision, by not sending Mrs Smith to prison.

‘The law is black and white, but the judge and Jurats have to interpret the law in a reasonable way and I think they did that today,’ he said.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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