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Mother spared jail for buying her son cannabis speaks of her anguish

Posted by on Feb. 28, 2011 at 10:40 AM
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Mother spared jail for buying her son cannabis speaks of her anguish

A mother who narrowly escaped jail for giving her autistic son cannabis in an effort to calm him has spoken of her anguish.

Nearly 20 cannabis farms found by police every day
Mother spared jail for buying her son cannabis speaks of her anguish Photo: PA

The 48-year-old, a highly-paid accountant, was refused help by social services because she was too 'middle-class’, a court heard last week.

Speaking for the first time since her conviction the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had taken the drastic step of supplying her son with drugs after struggling to deal with his increasingly difficult behaviour.

She said that she had done everything she could to help him, and that she was more concerned with his troubles than with her criminal record – even though the conviction is likely to cost her her job.

Speaking from her home – a £300,000 detached period house in a leafy suburban street in the Wirral, Merseyside – she told The Sunday Telegraph: “It’s devastating as a parent to have this long drawn-out battle that has been so ineffective and to gradually watch your child disintegrate to the point where his future has probably been lost. I did everything I could to help him.

“The fact is I broke the law. I did break the law. I acknowledge that. If you do something you have to face the consequences. But the failures in the system can and do have a very serious impact on families like mine.

“The criminal conviction and the loss of my career are not the worst problems that I’ve faced. My major problem remains dealing with my son’s behaviour and fighting for what is best for him.”

She was spared jail at Liverpool Crown Court last week after a judge ruled that she had acted out of a mother’s love.

The court heard how the divorcee found out her son was spending time with young men who were dealing cannabis.

She noticed her son’s behaviour worsening as he smoked the drug, and he became verbally and physically abusive to her.

She repeatedly “cried out for help” from the authorities but she was not regarded as priority because of her professional standing and large suburban home, the court heard.

In desperation, she approached the dealers and came to an informal agreement that she would buy the drugs for her son in an attempt to regulate his habit – even paying off his £400 drug debts.

Text messages on the drug dealer’s phone led to her arrest last November and she told police officers what had happened.

She is now receiving social services support for her son after he was expelled from school three times and was judged to be “beyond parental control”.

The mother, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to five offences of supplying cannabis and was given a 51-week suspended sentence.

Judge Mark Brown told the court it was a very unusual case and he felt able to take the exceptional course of suspending the sentence because he understood her motivation.

He said: “There is really no deeper love in life than that held by a mother for a child and the court can well understand how you were motivated to act as you did.

“I accept that throughout you have done your absolute best for him and that for you this must have been an extremely difficult situation to handle.”

The woman told this newspaper how she had raised her son single-handedly after she was divorced.

She said her son had always been regarded as difficult, and suffered from autism and ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

By his teens he had begun smoking cannabis, and she became unable to control him.

She said she now expects to lose her highly-paid job, and said her son had been failed by the education system.

“My son was only diagnosed with autism and ADHD at the age of 14. He has been very badly let down by the education system as the late diagnosis meant that he had no recognition of, or help with, his special needs.

“His negative experience in mainstream school resulted in disengagement from education which led to his already difficult behaviour becoming extreme.

“Our problems were then compounded by the refusal of help from social services despite numerous referrals.”

But rather than directly criticising social services, she accused the government of providing “inadequate funding” and said that future cuts could wreck the lives of many more families.

“I do not blame any individuals in the LEA or in social services. They are seriously underfunded and have to prioritise their interactions to the cases that they consider most acute. The core issue is one of government policy.

“Inadequate funding to education and front-line services has a much greater cost to society in the longer term as people who do not receive the help they need at the times they need it become dysfunctional and unable to lead normal lives.”

by on Feb. 28, 2011 at 10:40 AM
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