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UK: Cafe boss fined on cannabis charges

The Kidderminister Shuttle

Thursday 27 Jan 2005

POLICE who raided a Kidderminster cafe found customers smoking cannabis
while the proprietor served behind the counter.

They included a multiple sclerosis victim in a wheelchair who took the drug
to help cope with her illness.

David Lyness, the boss of Crystals Cafe in The Horsefair, described his
premises to police as "a cannabis theme park" and "a smoker's environment",
said Brett Stevenson, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court.

Lyness, 43, who lived in a flat above the cafe, admitted permitting his
premises to be used for cannabis smoking and possession of the drug on the
day he was due to face trial by jury.

He was fined UKP1,100 with UKP300 costs after Recorder Murray Creed
accepted that the defendant had been "reckless" in turning a blind eye.

A search warrant was executed at the cafe on February 19 last year. Three
customers had cannabis on them. Two were cautioned by police.

The third customer was prosecuted and fined because he was present in
August, 2003 when police mounted their first raid on the cafe and also
found him smoking cannabis, said Mr Stevenson.

He added Lyness also sold substances in packets known as "legal high" which
were spoofs of a real drug.

Police found a bag of cannabis on a coffee table in his flat and a herbal
grinder which had cannabis traces on it.

In 1989 Lyness was jailed for two years for possession of drugs and had
drug convictions in 1994 and 1997.

Defence counsel Alastair Edie said: "This was tantamount to turning a blind
eye. He didn't know who was smoking what. He insists he runs the cafe well,
is hard-working and does not allow alcohol."

Mr Edie said Kidderminster was notorious for hard drugs and Lyness was
offering a refuge to people who might be tempted into taking them.

Ten years ago, Lyness broke two leg bones, which left him with a permanent
limp and pain which travelled up his body.

He took drugs to alleviate the pain and had an aversion to prescribed drugs
after they failed to help his cancer-stricken mother.

Lyness was "not a rich man", making only UKP450 a month. He rented the flat
and had council tax arrears, which he was paying off.

"He's had a chequered past but in recent days has kept pretty much on the
straight and narrow. He believes cannabis has therapeutic qualities and
should be legalised," added Mr Edie.




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