AN anti yob campaigner protested about a hostel for jailbirds in her area and called for crime busting alley gates to protect her family from thugs – but allowed a drug dealer to set up a cannabis farm in her home.
Mum-of-five Julie Cullen, from North Shore, spun a web of lies as she portrayed herself as a victim of criminality – all the while she had turned a blind eye to a drug den in her Exchange Street home.
Preston Crown Court heard the 47-year-old had allowed her 19-year-old lodger Daniel Dugdale to grow cannabis in her home and was later threatened by dealers after police confiscated the haul.
Cullen, who has since been evicted from her home, had previously protested about a plan to home ex-criminals on her street.
Cullen told The Gazette at the time: “It’s the people they associate with that you worry about. It’s just not worth the risk, especially as there are so many families with young children living around here.”
Just a few years earlier, Cullen also campaigned for crime busting alley gates on Exchange Street, after moving to the area from a village in Devon.
She admitted allowing her premises to be used for the production of cannabis following a police raid.
Dugdale pleaded guilty to producing cannabis, possession of the drug, possessing with intent to supply, affray and possession of a weapon while a third defendant, Shaun Hallan, of Sutherland Road, North Shore, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply and being concerned in cannabis supply.
Police caught up with the trio after an officer smelt cannabis at Cullen and Dugdale’s home.
A raid in March 2010 uncovered two blocks, weighing 3.84 grammes, in a bedroom as well as snap bags, scales and four mobile phones.
Dugdale’s fingerprints were discovered on a cultivator in the kitchen which had 120 plants inside.
And 14 snap bags containing 97.2 grammes of cannabis, as well as a nine ounce bar of resin, were found in a Nissan Micra at the rear of the property.
Hallan walked in during the raid and was found with a chemical used for cultivating cannabis. He also had discarded a package containing three nine ounce bars.
Sgt Gareth Stubbs, from the neighbourhood policing team, said after the drugs were removed from the property, Cullen’s home was targeted by dealers demanding money.
He said: “As a result of the cannabis being seized, there were drug debts and threats were made by various drug counterparts.
“Cullen made herself out as a victim of crime when it was all to do with the drug activity.”
At the time of the threats, Cullen contacted The Gazette and said teenagers had vandalised her home and entered her house without permission and refused to leave.
She said: “It’s been a nightmare.
“I’ve never had any problems before and this section of the street is very family orientated.”
The court heard a second search was carried out at Cullen’s home in April 2010 after allegations were made that Dugdale had made threats to people with an air pistol.
Fifty snap bags of cannabis leaf – with an estimated street value of £750 – and some weighing scales as well as a pneumatic air gun and pellets were seized from the property.
The prosecution at Preston Crown Court said they accepted Cullen, who has since been evicted from her Exchange Street home, allowed her premises to be used because she feared for her and her family’s safety.
Cullen, of Hemingway, South Shore, was given 26 weeks in jail suspended for two years with a 12 week long curfew to operate from 8pm until 8am each night.
Dugdale was jailed for two years while Hallan, 31, was also handed 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years, with a hundred hours unpaid work and a 12 week long curfew.
Paul Humphries, defending Cullen, said: “There was a background of fear where gangs would pressurise people into holding things for them or doing things with their premises, and leave them alone if they complied, rather than any promise of a financial reward.
“She is not someone immersed in the drug culture. Trouble in the street led to the drugs being in the house and she turned a blind eye to that.
“In many ways she was a victim of what was happening in the street.
“She is anxious to point out it wasn’t only her house youths were targeting. In April last year she met with police and an alarm was fitted to her house. She got anti vandal paint and CCTV.”
Chris Hudson, defending Dugdale, said: “He was 18 at the time. He is vulnerable, easily influenced and subject to adverse influences.”
Mr Hudson said the drug crop was intended for someone else, not Dugdale. He was holding a nine ounce bar for another person.
Virginia Hayton, defending Hallan, said he was carrying drugs for someone else and was later glassed in the face by an associate of the person he had been holding drugs for.
Sentencing the trio, Judge Anthony Russell said: “It must be appreciated that drug dealing is a serious matter and it is something that, even if placed under pressure, people should not involve themselves in.
“One solution would be to go to the police, but you chose not to do that.”