And finally… drug use out of control south of the border

A man found himself before magistrates in North Devon after being caught in possession of nine pence worth of cannabis.

Christopher Saunders, 38, pleaded guilty to possession of the drug and was handed a conditional discharge.

Mr Saunders’ house was searched after a warrant was granted, police found various items – among them scales.

The police found Mr Saunders to have been in possession of 0.09 grams of cannabis.

Lyndsey Baker, prosecuting, said the value of the drugs was about nine pence.

The defendant had 47 previous convictions, with two relating to drugs.

Tim Hook, defending, said: “If I close one’s eyes and try to imagine nine hundredths of a gram it is a very difficult thing to fasten your mind on.

“I think it is a quantity that is barely capable of measurement.”

An error originally valued the drugs at £9.

Mr Hook added: “It would be extremely difficult to imagine a smaller quantity of cannabis that has ever come before the court, and therefore not only does it come in the lowest conceivable category in sentencing terms, but in my respectful submission wouldn’t really warrant the imposition of a financial penalty.

“I am staggeringly surprised it couldn’t have been dealt with by way of a caution at the police station, when so many things are.”

Mr Saunders was given a conditional discharge for six months and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15.

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