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UK: Police in Cornwall on a high as cannabis cafe closes

Thursday 20 Apr 2006

Police in Penzance describe it as an "Amsterdam" style cafe, serving
illegal drugs to children as young as 13.

But last week the Oasis Cafe on Alverton Street was closed and its owner
given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to do 200 hours of
community service.

Alan Jacobs, aged 54, his daughter Fran Jacobs, aged 27, and her
partner, James Berriman, also aged 27, were sentenced at Truro Crown
Court last Wednesday after admitting drugs offences at the cafe.

The business which had operated for three years - just yards from
Penzance police station - had acquired a reputation as a venue where
class C drugs were openly available.

Police said this week they were delighted that the cafe was now closed
and convictions secured after a catalogue of frustrated attempts.

Following the verdict, Sgt Pete Simms said: "It is very satisfying for
us to know that we have taken this problem out of the community because
it was of huge concern to us."

The cafe was first raided in 2002 when Mr Jacobs was arrested, with four
others, and cautioned for possession of cannabis.

Sgt Simms said: "He was unrepentant and considered he had done nothing

"It appeared to us that he was trying to run it like an Amsterdam coffee
shop, where cannabis could be openly smoked."

The cafe was visited twice more in 2002 and 2003, although CCTV and a
security door had been installed and officers were refused entry.

Sgt Simms said: "It was very frustrating because we had parents telling
us their children were buying drugs there, but without firm, first hand
evidence is was impossible to get a warrant."

It wasn't until June 28 last year that the police were successful in
obtaining permission to raid the cafe where they found several people
either smoking or in possession of cannabis.

As well as bongs, hash grinders and other drugs paraphernalia, 88.8
grams of cannabis was seized.

In total seven people were arrested, among them Alan Jacobs, his
daughter Fran Jacobs and her partner James Berriman.

Prosecutor Llewellyn Sellick said there were four youngsters present,
one of whom said she had started buying cannabis in the cafe when she
was 13.

Last week Ms Jacobs was given a conditional discharge and Mr Berriman
received a suspended prison sentence and was ordered to do 150 hours of
community work.

Defending Alan Jacobs, Pentreath Wilson said he had never intended the
cafe to become cannabis smoking premises but had initially allowed young
musicians to play and record there and helped sell their productions. It
was not set up as a commercial enterprise, and he was shocked when he
learned the ages of some of those involved. "He was trying to promote a
place where young people could relax in safety."

Alan Jacobs was told by Judge Jeffrey Rucker he had escaped a custodial
sentence because there was no evidence to suggest he had introduced
youngsters to cannabis and his business was otherwise legitimate and had
a positive side to it.

Sgt Simms said: "We feel we have had some great successes against drugs
this year but there will be others out there ready to fill the void so
we need help."




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