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Ditchfield Campaigner to pay for his day in court

Elwyn Roberts, North Wales Daily Post, 29th July 2006

A DRUGS campaigner was yesterday warned he would be made to pay for his day in court.

Jeff Ditchfield was convicted by a jury of possessing, cultivating and supplying cannabis in a "misguided campaign".

The 46-year-old from Rhyl was ordered to reveal his earnings and savings, with judge Mr Recorder Steven Everett demanding a detailed list of the four-day trial costs.

Ditchfield of Water Street where he runs the Begger's Belief Cafe?, claimed he provided drugs to help people in pain.

Yesterday the judge said he was considering a suspended prison sentence to hang over Ditchfield to stop him supplying cannabis to ill people.

And he warned Ditchfield would pay for the trial - through his pocket and with unpaid community work.

Sentence was adjourned until September, and Ditchfield released on bail.

Ditchfield was found guilty of attempting to supply home secretary John Reid, then defence minister, with a cannabis plant.

And he was convicted of supplying cannabis to two people as pain relief, cultivating cannabis found at the home of an arthritis sufferer at Rhyl, and at a hidden room in his own home, and possessing cannabis leaf found in his fridge.

He was cleared of possessing the leaf, said by the prosecution to have a street value of £12,000 but which he called hemp, with intent to supply.

Mr Everett said: "He frankly admits supplying drugs for the best of reasons.

"By your verdict, I am quite satisfied that he is not a sordid street dealer of cannabis, quite the reverse. But he has broken the law and I have to pass sentence upon him.

"It seems to me that there is a world of difference between a sordid street dealer of cannabis and someone who rather misguidedly campaigns to try and assist people in pain."

The judge told Ditchfield he was considering a suspended sentence with up to 300 hours unpaid work.

"You always profess that you want to carry out work for the community.
You can do it under a suspended sentence.

"If you then decide you want to break the law in the same way, then you will have no one to blame but yourself if you go down the steps to custody."

The judge warned Ditchfield's pocket would be considerably lighter as a result of the costs of the trial, which was his absolute right.

"It may well be a very expensive business," he said.

After the case Ditchfield was surrounded by supporters, many claiming they rely on cannabis for pain relief and to improve their quality of life.

Ditchfield said he was proud of what he had done.

But he said he was no longer involved in the Bud Buddies organisation which provided cannabis to sick people.

It followed a government u-turn on a cannabis based spray as a pain killer on a patient by patient bases.

Ditchfield, who sent a cannabis plant to every member of the cabinet including the prime minister, urging them to change the law, said he may have played a part in the shift.

"I have at least been able to highlight the issue," he said.

"The law may have been served here today but justice has not."

Ditchfield told the jury that he knew he was breaking the law, "however I did not see the law as morally right."

Ditchfield was previously cleared at Chester Crown Court of similar charges.

But the court of appeal later ruled the defence of medical necessity for supplying drugs didn't exist in law.

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