Thimbleberry organiser cleared of permitting drug use

May 2010

Live events industry

Thimbleberry Festival organiser Andy Norman has been found not guilty of allowing the use of cannabis on his festival site in 2009 after a police investigation. Durham County Constabulary charged 51 year old Norman with permitting the smoking of a class B drug on his premises. The offence was said to have taken place between September 24 and September 28, this year.”  Officers arrested him shortly after the three-day festival, which sees hundreds of music lovers from across the UK camp at Thimbleberry Hall Farm twice a year. Judge Christopher Prince recorded the verdict at Durham Crown Court after concerns over the committal and the definition of the word ‘premises’. Norman, who runs the Festival in both June and September, has already cancelled the 2010 June event but plans to now run the September event. He is seeking to recover £3,513 confiscated by the Police at the September 2009 event as potential proceeds of crime.

In Cumbria a number of supply of drug related cases against individuals reached the courts after arrests at Kendal Calling. Judge Peter Hughes QC sitting in Carlisle Crown Court warned of the dangers of young people being tempted into selling drugs at Festivals. Jamie Bamford (19) of Leeds was charged with offering to supply what he thought was ecstasy at the 2009 Festival to an undercover police. In fact what was offered was not ecstasy but a common substitute. Bamford, who pleaded guilty, was told by Judge Hughes that the offence had been committed, and adjourning for pre-sentence reports, the Judge told Bamford that he faced the possibility of jail despite a previously clean record. Judge Hughes said “the worrying feature of cases such as this is that young people are being used at pop festivals, gatherings and other events of that nature to peddle drugs like ecstasy and its substitutes” adding “a serious view has to be taken of the availability of drugs at such events and one concern is how young people like him of pervious good character and no doubt of good promise for the future, comes to be in this position”. However, a young couple arrested for offering to sell ecstasy at the same event were cleared after Judge Hughes expressed concerns about the evidence against them. Sian Farquhar (18) and Matthew Lynch (24), both from Clitheroe, had pleaded not guilty to charges resulting from the August festival in Lowther Park of offering to supply ecstasy to two undercover police – although again the powder offered which was hidden in Farquhar’s bra was found to be a substitute for ecstasy, BZP. The jury was discharged before any evidence was heard and it was then heard that secret recording devices had been used by the two undercover officers. After lengthy discussions between the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service the CPS offered no evidence. Judge Hughes formally found the pair not guilty. Finally at Penrith Magistrates Court, District Judge Gerald Chalk ordered a pre-sentence report and sent the case of Sean Ploithaisong (18) of Harrogate, to Carlisle Crown Court after Ploithaisong pleaded guilty to the supply of MDMA at Kendal Calling. Two undercover officers had approached Ploithaisong and colleague Ryan Kirby near the Dance Tent to buy ecstasy and Ploithaisong had agreed to arrange this the next day using mobile telephones and 8 MDMA tablets were supplied for £20. Ploithaisong and Bamford will be sentenced in early May. Kirby was separately sentenced to a curfew order.
Cumbria and Westmorland Herald  10th April 2010.

See this interesting article by George Montbiot in the Guardian (30th March 2010) Why do our paranoid, anti-fun police seem to think they run the country?

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