Stress drove man to import cannabis

A man who claimed the stress of caring for his mother drove him to import nearly a kilogram of cannabis has received a nine-month suspended prison sentence.   Judge  Nicholas Price QC also gave Leonard Darnley, 48, of Garden Avenue, Mitcham, 200 hours of unpaid work.   Mr Darnley, said: “It was for my own personal use. I am a full-time carer for my mother and this is very stressful.”   Mr Darnley had pleaded guilty to one count of importing a class B controlled substance and two counts of possession at his trial on the 5th March and was sentenced on 26th March.    The total street value of  drugs found at Mr Darnley’s house was estimated at somewhere between £4,856 and £9,713.   On the 5th of May last year, a parcel addressed to Mr Darnley’s house from Kenya was intercepted by police and found to contain 941g of cannabis.   An undercover officer went to Mr Darnley’s house dressed as a postman, where the defendant signed for the parcel, saying it was for his sister.   Police later returned and Mr Darnley was arrested following a brief struggle. On searching the house, officers found two amounts of herbal cannabis.   Just under 3g of skunk and 1g of cannabis were found in the bedroom of the property.   Mr Darnley had not had any previous convictions for the last 16 years, although he had received a caution in 2011 for possession of crack cocaine.   Defence barrister Miss Da Costa spoke of Mr Darnley’s lack of previous convictions, his feelings of guilt and remorse and his role as his mother’s carer.   She said: “Mr Darnley is a user of cannabis. His usage has increased since he became his mother’s carer. He has sought to relax by way of taking cannabis.   “This is a man with responsibility, although, your honour, he has committed a serious offence.”   In sentencing Mr Darnley, Judge Price was asked by the defence to take his role as his mother’s primary carer into account.    After being told that there was no other family member who could look after Mr Darnley’s mother, Judge Price QC said: “Why did he not think of his mother before?”   Judge Price criticised the case for the defence, saying: “A custody sentence is inevitable, it is deeply unattractive for someone who has broken the law to say: don’t put me inside, not because I don’t deserve it, but because I need to look after my aged mother.”   As he sentenced the defendant, he warned Mr Darnley not to reoffend lest he be imprisoned.   He said: “I have come to the conclusion that the right sentence in your case is nine months in prison – that sentence will be suspended for two years.   “I want to make it clear that if you ever appear in front of me in this court again your feet will not touch the ground – you will go straight inside. Your mother deserves better.”   After the sentencing, a man shouted from the public gallery: “God bless you judge.”   Mr Darnley echoed the sentiment, saying: “God bless you your honour, thank you.”

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