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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Cannabis grandmother spared jail
Patricia Tabram
Patricia Tabram baked biscuits and soups with cannabis
A 66-year-old grandmother from Northumberland has been spared jail by a judge for drug dealing.

Judge David Hodson said he would not make a martyr of Patricia Tabram, who had admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply from her home.

The former chef appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday after making cannabis-laced soups and casseroles for herself and friends.

Tabram was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She was arrested at her home at Humshaugh near Hexham, after police seized 31 cannabis plants growing in her loft and another from her hallway table.

Tabram insisted she was using the cannabis in recipes because it helped relieve intense back and neck ache.

Judge Hodson, the Recorder of Newcastle, said the offence was so serious only a jail sentence was appropriate, however he would not be making her a martyr.

He said: "People in this part of the world cannot fail to have noticed that you have been caught up in a media circus.

'Eventful life'

"It might be that you have been trying to tempt the courts into making a martyr of you. I am not going to do this.

"I consider that this offence merits imprisonment which I fix at six months. However, I am persuaded that there are exceptional circumstances which justifies a suspension of the sentence for a period of two years."

Carl Gumsley, defending, told the judge: "She maintains she will continue taking cannabis and I do not suggest to the court that she has given it up.

"What she has said, notwithstanding her own views, is that she will not supply it to any other person."

In mitigation, Mr Gumsley added that the former chef had led an "eventful" life and had suffered from several episodes of mental illness over the years.

The grandmother-of-two began cooking for friends using food sprinkled with the illegal drug after being introduced to it last year.

Bedside cabinet

Northumbria Police were tipped off about the savoury smells and activities coming from Tabram's bungalow and twice raided her house last May and June.

They found cannabis plants growing in her loft, another one from her hallway table as well as individual portions of the drug in her fridge and on her bedside cabinet.

Tabram said she had been travelling to the Byker district of Newcastle regularly to buy cannabis.

She met a dealer in Hexham after her friends said they also wanted some of the Class C drug. Police raided her home a day after she took delivery of the cannabis.

Speaking outside the court she said: "Well, I am a free woman. But fining me so much money - I am a pensioner and I get a little over 100 a week.

"I will not stop medicating with it because it is far better than any tablets you can get from the doctor."

She insisted that she had not supplied anyone else with the Class C drug since police raided her bungalow.

"I have never got it for other people since last June.

"I only got cannabis once for my friends. Now a young man has arranged for it to be delivered to their doors."



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