Published: 04/11/2013 09:00 - Updated: 04/11/2013 09:39

Milton Keynes Rastafarian has sentence for growing cannabis cut because he uses it for pain relief

Written bySCOTT KIRK

A devout Rastafarian from Milton Keynes, caged for growing cannabis in his front room, had his sentence cut after top judges heard he smokes the drug for pain relief - and as an essential “sacrament”.

Caleb John-Lewis, 47, received a total 12-month sentence at Aylesbury Crown Court in August after he admitted producing home-grown cannabis.

He was also convicted of possessing the drug with intent to supply in relation to a three-quarter-kilo haul of “Skunk”.

John-Lewis, of Heywood Gate, was prosecuted after police discovered a cluster of cannabis “seedlings” in his living room, plus hydroponic lighting equipment designed to help nurture the plants.

“He is a Rastafarian who explained at the time of his trial that he saw smoking cannabis as a sacrament,” Mr Justice Silber told London’s Appeal Court.

There was no evidence of dealing or commercial gain, added the judge, while John-Lewis said he also needed to use cannabis to cope with a range of chronic health problems, including sickle cell anaemia, severe diabetes and a heart condition.

His case reached the Appeal Court as John-Lewis’ legal team challenged his jail term - which was slashed to eight months.

His barrister, Michelle Harris, argued that he should have received a community sentence for the cannabis production count as “he sees cannabis as a sacrament and has a serious medical condition”.

After a brief hearing, Mr Justice Silber, sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Judge Francis Gilbert QC, decided to reduce the sentence. He concluded that John-Lewis’ original term was “manifestly excessive” and cut it by a third.

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