Judge warns over dangers of cannabis

Judge Simon Newell
Judge Simon Newell
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A judge has warned of the dangers of cannabis after hearing how a user of the drug ended up in a stand off with police.

Lee Smith was arrested after he armed himself with a samurai sword and knives and refused to leave his home.

Preston Crown Court heard Smith had sought mental health treatment before the incident.

But Judge Simon Newell said medical staff had indicated they could only help the defendant if he stopped taking drugs, something which he had not done at the time.

The judge told Smith: “Too many people think that cannabis doesn’t cause much harm, so they can smoke it, like you do, on a daily basis.

“On a daily basis, given the health problems you have, cannabis is very dangerous. All the doctors say that and if you don’t make it stop then something like what took place last October is going to happen again”.

The court heard that over a period of two and a quarter hours on October 3 last year Smith waved three knives around and a samurai sword.

A police armed response unit was sent to the scene.

Smith, 24, of Chesterfield Road, Blackpool, had admitted a charge of affray.

The defendant had returned home to his then home on Langdale Road after being away for a few days.

Mercedeh Jabbari, prosecuting, said he rang his girlfriend but argued with her and threw the phone on the floor.

His mother told him he needed help and tried to contact a crisis team.

Smith grabbed the telephone from her and ripped it out of the wall. His mum did manage to contact the crisis team, who said they would get in touch with the police.

Shortly after that she left, concerned for her safety. The defendant ended up alone in the house. Police arrived and a cordon was set up.

Smith was seen brandishing a 10-inch bladed knife at a window and making threats.

He appeared at the window with a total of three knives, all of them a similar size, before taking hold of a large samurai sword and began stabbing it into the window, while shouting threats.

Miss Jabbari added: “There was a long period of negotiation which eventually concluded with him surrendering himself, as well as the sword. The incident had lasted two hours and 15 minutes.”

He later told police when questioned that he was suffering mental health issues and claimed he wasn’t getting the help he needed.

Smith had no previous convictions.

Paul Humphries, defending, said: “It is clear he was having severe problems at the time. Two to three weeks earlier he had been to hospital for help and left without any.

“The knives were only brandished towards the police. He had made a conditional threat that if they came in the house they would get stabbed”.

Judge Newell said Smith had not been sectioned at that stage because he was continuing to take various types of drugs.

The judge added: “What they are saying is they can only help him if he stops taking drugs. The ball is in his court and not theirs.”

Smith was given 10 months prison, suspended for 18 months, with 18 months supervision and drug rehab for nine months.