Every word of judge’s speech as he locked up two teenagers following death of Yousef Makki

Manchester Evening Post | 25 July 2019 |

It is rightly recognised on your behalf that your use of cannabis that day, by your own admissions is an aggravating factor. As reflected in the evidence before me, cannabis consumption can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

You stand to be sentenced following your guilty pleas, in the case of the first defendant to one count of perverting the course of justice and one count of possession of a bladed article, and in the case of the second defendant to one count of possession of a bladed article.

Reporting restrictions apply in this case as you were each 17 at the time of commission of the offences for which you stand to be sentenced, and remain 17 at the time of sentence.

Accordingly I shall refer to you as D1 and D2.

At the end of a four week trial, you D1, were acquitted by the jury of the murder of 17 year old Yousef Makki on 2 March 2019 in Gorse Bank Road Hale Barns, the fatal injury to Yousef Makki being inflicted by a flick knife that you were holding at the time and which is the subject matter of your plea of guilty to possession of a bladed article.

It was one of a pair purchased by you D2 by mail order over the internet from China using a false name and delivered to the address of an unwitting friend. Your plea of guilty relates to your possession of one of those two flick knives on 2 March.

The count of perverting the course of justice relates to the misleading information that you D1 gave to the police at the scene which diverted police attention away from you and falsely suggested that those responsible for the stabbing had made good their escape in a grey VW Polo, which was taken seriously by the senior officer at the scene (PS Bamber), as is readily apparent from the body worn footage, and led PS Bamber to circulate the information on the police network.

The backdrop to your offending is depressingly all too familiar. A warped culture whereby the possession of knives is considered to be “cool” and “aesthetically pleasing”, and knives are routinely carried on our streets.

Mix that with youth as well as drugs and drug dealing, as in the present case, and it is a recipe for disaster and the tragic, but all too predictable, events that unfolded on the early evening of 2 March 2019, with the loss of the young life of your friend Yousef Makki who had everything to live for, and the irreperable [sic] harm that resulted, which has changed the lives of his family and friends forever.

The victim impact statement of Yousef’s mother speaks volumes in that regard.

You will both have to live with your actions that day and the consequences of the same for the rest of your lives. That is a different form of sentence to the sentences that I can and must pass in respect of the offending to which you have pleaded guilty.

It is a sentence from which there is no appeal, and it is a sentence that will never be spent.

The sentences I must now pass are for the offending to which you have pleaded guilty based on the seriousness and culpability of that offending, and nothing else. They are not based, and cannot be based, by reference to the tragic loss of a young life on that fateful evening.

From the evidence I have heard in the course of your trial it is clear that both of you had an unhealthy fixation with knives which is all too common amongst the youth of today. It must stop. There is nothing cool about knives.

Their carrying all too often leads to their use and to tragedy, and it is a fallacy that they can keep you safe – very much the reverse, as events all too often demonstrate.

Knife crime is a canker on society, and it affects all spectrums of society – the message that must be brought home is that knives kill, and knives ruin lives.

The best legacy of Yousef’s tragic death would be if this message could be got across – and knives regarded as “uncool” by the young in society going forward.

You D1 have admitted that you found knives “cool” and found particular knives “aesthetically pleasing”. You videoed yourself with knives – including a machete in your bedroom which you wielded with slashing motions at two friends, and stabbed your bed whilst seemingly acting out violent scenarios.

This seems to have led to a normalising process by which you became over familiar with the carrying of a knife, and with its handling.

You also listened to drill music and gangster rap glorifying the carrying and use of knives. I am quite satisfied that the use of such a soundtrack on one of your videos was not coincidental, but whether that is so or not it is clear that you associated yourself with the lyrics of that genre of music and the constant references to the carrying and use of “shanks” which deadened you to the risks and consequences of the carrying of knives.

You D2 also clearly have a fascination with knives. It was at your initiative that you went to the trouble and expense of importing the two flick knives by mail order from China. This required planning and conscious intent. You used a false name and you persuaded an unwitting friend to have parcels delivered to his home which unknown to him contained the flick knives. He was horrified, and rightly so, when he discovered the content of the parcels.

You wrongly regarded knives as something to show off and create an image with.

Those two flick knives had a sharp thin pointed blade that was deployed and retracted with the pressing of a button on the shaft of the knife. They are offensive weapons with no legitimate purpose. They are designed by their very nature to injure or to kill.

The ease with which they can do so was graphically illustrated in the present case. Neither of you had any legitimate reason for their possession, still less in a public place. It is no excuse D1 that you had be [sic] attacked in the past. That is not an excuse to carry a knife.

The adage that death and serious injury are far more likely to occur when a knife is present is all too true. You D1 say that you now recognise that – I hope that is true.

So it was that in the early afternoon of 2 March 2019 you two and Yousef Makki cycled into the Booths car park at Hale. You D1 are seen smoking a spliff as you arrive.

By your own admission you had more cannabis in your bag. We know from the toxicology evidence that following the stabbing both you and Yousef each had the products of cannabis and the benzodiazepine alzalopram (xanax) in your bloodstream.

We also know, by your own admission, that you D2 also smoked cannabis that afternoon. We will never know the precise amount of cannabis constituents in your bloodstream as your blood was never tested. It was also you D2 who arranged the ill-fated drug deal for you to purchase cannabis from your drug supplier that afternoon.

Before departing for that drugs meet the three of you compared knives, and Yousef showed you, D1, how the flick knives operated. Either at that time or later at the drugs meet you D1 came into possession of one of the flick knives from D2 that D2 had previously purchased.

You D2, by your plea of guilty, admit that you had one of the flick knives in your possession that afternoon.

For whatever reason (and the jury rejected the prosecution case that you conspired together to steal the cannabis) the drugs meet was not a success, and you D1 were beaten up and your expensive carbon fibre bicycle was thrown over a hedge.

You were to search for that bike for over an hour, it appears without success. On any view, and as you admit, you were angry with D2 and Yousef for leaving you, though you told the jury you were more angry with D2, and that Yousef helped you look for your bike.

The precise events that followed will never be known. What is known is that an altercation followed between you D1 and Yousef, during the course of which he suffered a fatal injury from the knife that you produced, and was one of the two knives that D2 had purchased.

Your immediate reaction to those events when the police arrived at the scene, and whilst attempts were being made to save Yousef’s life, D1, was to provide misleading information to the police which diverted police attention away from you and falsely suggested that those responsible for the stabbing had made good their escape in a grey VW Polo, which was taken seriously by the senior officer at the scene (PS Bamber), as is readily apparent from the body worn footage, and led PS Bamber to circulate the information on the police network.

Turning then to the approach to sentencing you in relation to the offences to which you have pleaded guilty.

You were both 17 years old at the time of the offences remain 17 years old as at the date of sentence. In sentencing you I confirm that I have had regard to, as I am required to do, the aim of the youth justice system which is to prevent offending by children and young people (Section 37 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998), and your welfare (Section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933).

I have also taken full account of the Overarching Principles of Sentencing Youths guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council which apply.

In this regard whilst the seriousness of the offences will be the starting point, the approach to sentencing should be individualistic and focussed upon each of you.

I bear well in mind that children and young people are not fully developed and have not attained full maturity, and that the impact of punishment is likely to be felt more heavily by a child or young person in comparison to an adult.

I also bear well in mind that any restriction on liberty must be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence, and that in considering the seriousness of any offence it is necessary to consider the child or young person’s culpability in committing the offence and any harm which the offence caused, was intended to cause or might foreseeably have caused.

Turning then to the offences in respect of which you have pleaded guilty addressing first the count of perverting the course of justice to which you D1 have pleaded guilty. In this regard it is well established that the three factors to which the court should have regard are (1) the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates (2) the degree of persistence in the conduct; and (3) the effect of the attempt to pervert the course of justice on the course of justice itself.

Guidance has been given recently in R v Coslett (Catherine) 2017 EWCA Crim 2376 . The principles to be applied are set out at paragraphs [16] to [22], in particular:

“16. Our attention was invited to the judgment of Stanley Burnton LJ in Tunney [2007] 1 Cr App R(S) 91, in which the court provided some guidance on sentencing for this kind of offence. He observed at paragraph 10: “The particular factors which the court must have regard to are, first, the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates. Here the offence in question, murder/manslaughter, was at the most serious end of the spectrum. The second matter which the court must have regard to is the degree of persistence in the conduct in question by the offender. […] Thirdly, one must consider the effect of the attempt to pervert the course of justice on the course of justice itself. Here it is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the substantive offence of murder or manslaughter could scarcely have been more serious.”

17. Other decisions were put before us in which the court has adopted a similar approach. They were said to establish the following principles:

18. A sentence of immediate custody is required in all but the most exceptional circumstances (Attorney General’s Reference No 35 of 2009 [2010] 1 Cr App R(S) 61 at paragraph 11).


20. Where the offender provides a false account to the police investigating a serious offence: “The general area of starting point for offences in the particular circumstances of this kind is bound to be measured in years rather than months, something probably between two and three years.”

21. (Attorney General’s Reference No 109 of 2010 [2010] EWCA Crim 2382).

Applying those principles to the present case. Here the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates was at the most serious end of the spectrum, namely the murder or manslaughter of Yousef Makki.

Secondly in terms of the degree of persistence, you maintained this false account throughout the time at the scene and indeed it was some 24 hours before you corrected your lies.

Thirdly, and whatever scepticism was expressed about consistency of accounts and whether the full story was coming out, your account was taken seriously, you were treated at the scene as a witness not a suspect, and I have no doubt whatsoever that valuable police resources were wasted whilst a futile search was no doubt being made for the VW Polo – resources which would otherwise have been available to others in immediate need.

You lied convincingly and it did mislead the police.

Your conduct in terms of the disposal of the knife was an aggravating feature of your offending in this regard, but I will be careful to ensure that there is no double counting as this was also an aggravating feature in your offending in terms of possession of a bladed article.

You, as well as D2, are clearly, intelligent young people with a good education. It would be an insult to your obvious intelligence to suggest that either of you were unaware of the seriousness of the offence of carrying a knife in public and the risk of very serious harm that could result from the use of the type that you each had in your possession.

I note that you D1 were assessed by Ms Widdowson, in her detailed pre-sentence report, as having thinking and maturity skills commensurate with your age.

So far as the offence of perverting the course of justice, this is an even more serious offence striking, as it does, at the very heart of the judicial system.

Given your intelligence and level of comprehension and maturity displayed by the manner in which you gave evidence, which I was well placed to assess over an extended period during the trial, you D1 cannot but have been aware of the seriousness of what had just occurred and as to the serious effect of your lies on the course of justice, lies that you persevered in for some considerable time as you gave your initial accounts.

Again I note that Ms Widdowson assessed your emotional and cognitive maturity as commensurate with your age.

I am satisfied that you had the necessary maturity to understand the consequences of your actions – as did D2 in relation to the offending to which he has pleaded guilty.

I recognise that young people are prone to impulsive behaviour and may not appreciate the impact of their behaviour, but I am satisfied you were both aware of the dangers of carrying knives, and you D1 lied and lied convincingly to the police at the scene.

Whilst not cynical or pre-meditated your lying occurred with knowledge of what had just occurred and with clear intent of diverting the police’s attention away from you. There was nothing impulsive about your convincing account to officers at the scene.

The officers’ actions as a result of your account speak for themselves.

I bear well in mind the matters identified by your counsel in their helpful sentencing note, in particular that you had yourself been subject to a violent attack earlier in the evening from the Choudhary brothers and were involved in an altercation with Yousef that had led to his death from a knife in your hand, in circumstances where you considered that you needed to defend yourself.

I also bear in mind that you were aware that you had caused at the very least very serious injury to your friend, and I have no doubt that it was a very traumatic experience as you attempted to save Yousef’s life in the immediate aftermath of your actions.

Nevertheless I do not agree that your actions were unsophisticated or ineffectual, at least in the short term – anyone who has seen your performance on the body worn footage will appreciate that your performance was convincing as evinced by the fact that despite a potential fatality having occurred and you being at the scene, you were not treated as a suspect, and as your account was given, updates were given by PS Bamber clearly designed to search for the presumed offenders.

Your lies may have been short-lived and ill conceived but they had a real effect on the contemporaneous operational activities. Nor were they doomed to fail had you not had a change of heart and had the weapon not been located.

I bear well in mind the fact that you are of previous good character, the mitigation offered on your behalf and the character reference I have been provided with.

In particular I bear in mind that you faced charges of the utmost gravity from March to July 2019 and that your conduct has been the subject of intense media comment both before and after the verdicts, not all of which has been focussed upon the evidence that was heard by the jury.

I have also given very careful consideration to the contents of Ms Widdowson’s pre-sentence report which has been prepared with obvious care and identifies that you D1 know that you are facing a custodial sentence, and that a custodial sentence would go a long way in reinforcing to you that offences of this nature are extremely serious.

On any view the custody threshold has been passed and passed by some margin. This is not a case in which a referral order would be appropriate as Ms Widdowson recognises. I am asked to consider the possibility of a community disposal in the form of a Youth Rehabilitation Order with an Intensive Supervision Requirement, and I have given that careful consideration.

However a community disposal, as reflected in such an order, would not reflect the seriousness of your offending in relation to perverting the course of justice and possession of a bladed article and the circumstances of this case that I have identified.

I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training and I am satisfied that your offending is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. I am therefore going to make a Detention and Training Order.

Had you been an adult I consider that your offending is so serious that an appropriate starting point would have been one of 3 years’ imprisonment.

I bear well in mind your age, your previous good character and your personal mitigation. Given your age (17) and maturity (which I was well placed to assess during the course of your trial and giving evidence and consider to be at least equivalent to your chronological age if not greater) I consider a sentence around two-thirds of the adult sentence would be appropriate having regard to such matters as well as your personal mitigation.

Before full credit for your guilty plea I consider that the appropriate sentence would be 24 months. However I will also take into account the time you have spent on qualifying curfew (equivalent to 138 days) and also take into account that you have been subject to an intensive supervision and surveillance package.

Taking all that into account, and after giving you full credit for your guilty plea, I will round your sentence down to a 12 months Detention and Training Order.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case.

Turning to your plea of guilty to possession of a bladed article. This is clearly Category A offending with a starting point for an adult of 6 months with a range of 3 months to 1 year.

I have had specific regard to the Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons (Possession and Threats) – Children and Young People Guideline, which identifies that in relation to possession of a bladed article whether produced or not a custodial sentence or youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and surveillance may be justified. In the present case the knife was not only produced by you D1, but inflicted a fatal wound upon Yousef. There is the significant aggravating factor of the attempts to conceal or dispose of evidence – which is common ground.

The toxicology reports also show that you had alprazolam (xanax) a benzodiazepine, and Carboxy-THC a constituent of cannabis, in your bloodstream when tested later that night (and so at the time of your offending).

I have had regard to the agreed facts and the medical evidence of Dr Wilson. Dr Wilson’s evidence, which I accept, is that these can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

Whilst it is not possible to say precisely what influence such drugs had on you, I consider the use of such drugs is an aggravating factor. At the end of the day you drew a knife in public which was on any view an unwise thing to do, and your judgment cannot have been assisted by prior consumption of both a benzodiazepine and cannabis.

I also bear in mind the established evidence of community wide impact of knife crime (such wider impact being an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Children and Young Person Definitive Guideline).

Again I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training. In all the circumstances I consider that the seriousness of your offending is such that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

If you had been an adult I consider that the appropriate sentence would have been one of 11 months’ imprisonment. Having regard to your age and the personal mitigation offered on your behalf and to totality (and having studiously avoiding any double-counting), I consider that after giving you full credit for your guilty plea the appropriate sentence is a Detention and Training Order of 4 months, consecutive to the sentence passed for perverting the course of justice.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case. The total period of your Detention and Training Order is accordingly 16 months (as to permissible DTO consecutive sentences see R v G.N. 2000 WL 1480067).

You can expect to serve up to one half of the sentence in detention and training. When you are released, you will be under supervision until the sentence has ended.

If you break the terms of your supervision or commit a further offence during that period, a court can order your detention in secure accommodation.

D2, you stand to be sentenced for one offence of possessing a bladed article. In your case too this is clearly Category A offending with a starting point for an adult of 6 months with a range of 3 months to 1 year. I have had specific regard to the Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons (Possession and Threats) – Children and Young People Guideline, which identifies that in relation to possession of a bladed article whether produced or not a custodial sentence or youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and surveillance may be justified.

It is rightly recognised on your behalf that your use of cannabis that day, by your own admissions is an aggravating factor. As reflected in the evidence before me, cannabis consumption can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

It will never be known if you were actually under the influence of cannabis (as your blood was never tested) but you had consumed cannabis that day and on D1’s account that would have been before the knife that inflicted the fatal wound was passed by you to D1 immediately before the drugs meet that you had arranged for you to purchase further cannabis.

That drugs meet, at which you were all present, followed on from a meeting in the Booths carpark where all the knives were out and compared, and cannabis was consumed by D1. Part of the factual matrix to your offending that I consider is also relevant is that you had purchased the two flick knives and had then given one of those flick knives to D1, which inflicted the fatal injury on Yousef Makki.

You also disposed of one of the knives (not the knife that inflicted the fatal wound, nor the knife that you had previously had in your possession) at the scene, and prior to the arrival of the police.

Again I also bear in mind the established evidence of community wide impact of knife crime (such wider impact being an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Children and Young Person Definitive Guideline).

I bear well in mind your age (17) and your previous good character (including the character references testifying to your character) and the personal mitigation offered on your behalf, including your age, your previous good character, your expressed remorse and regret and the impact of your offending upon you both in terms of the matters identified by Dr Latif, and also in terms of repercussions upon you.

I acknowledge that you yourself have suffered health wise and have been diagnosed with PTSD accompanied by a generalised anxiety disorder – but these are all consequences of your own actions that led up to the chain of events that resulted in the death of Yousef Makki from a knife you had purchased, and passed to D1, on your own admission.

I have had careful regard to the pre-sentence report prepared by Bonita Jordan. I do not consider that a referral Order with an Intensive Contract would begin to reflect the seriousness of your offending.

As with D1 I have given careful consideration to whether a community disposal in the form of a Youth Rehabilitation Order with Intensive Supervision and Surveillance would be appropriate. However a community disposal, as reflected in such an order, would not reflect the seriousness of your offending in relation to possession of a bladed article in the circumstances of this case. I have no doubt that a custodial placement whether in a YOI or a Secure Training Setting will be difficult for you, but you have committed a serious crime, and one that only justifies a custodial sentence.

There is a price to pay for your actions. I can only hope that other young people in your position will learn from your mistakes, and will be put off taking knives onto the streets.

I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training and I am satisfied that your offending is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. I am therefore going to make a Detention and Training Order.

Had you been an adult I consider that your offending is so serious that an appropriate starting point would have been one of 10 months’ imprisonment prior to mitigation and credit for guilty plea.

In all the circumstances, and after having full regard to the personal mitigation available to you and giving you full credit for your guilty plea, I consider that the appropriate sentence is a Detention and Training Order of 4 months.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case.

In reaching this sentence I have also given careful consideration to whether, in the exercise of my discretion, it would be appropriate to take into account time spent on non-qualifying curfew but in the circumstances of your offending, and the lack of electronic monitoring, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to do so.

I note the expressed concern about the impact of any custodial sentence on your ability to resume full time education. In terms of the length of sentence I have passed, the reality is that it is not of such length that it will prevent you carrying on studies in full time education upon your release, albeit it may delay the commencement of those studies depending on when you are released. A custodial sentence is, however, necessitated by the seriousness of your offending.

You can expect to serve up to one half of the sentence in detention and training. When you are released, you will be under supervision until the sentence has ended.

If you break the terms of your supervision or commit a further offence during that period, a court can order your detention in secure accommodation.

I order the forfeiture and destruction of the knives. The victim surcharge must be paid in each case and I make a collection order in that regard. I make no order as to prosecution costs.


A trio of modish, stupid, irresponsible dupes: Sir Norman Lamb (@normanlamb), Jonathan Djanogly (@JDjanogly) and David Lammy (@davidlammy)


Here is modern Britain: three MPs, one each from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and Labour, standing contentedly in front of a large amount of a powerful and dangerous psychoactive pleasure drug, as part of a “fact-finding mission” in Canada paid for by a large cannabis company, accompanied by journalists from the BBC eager to report their “findings”.

This is dismaying and worrying in the extreme. It’s as if the recent flurry of psychopathic violence committed by cannabis smokers (with verdicts reached in eight murder trials this month alone) has reinvigorated the legalisation lobby. Rather than stop and admit that cannabis can never be safe, that the law against possession of it has not been enforced in any meaningful sense in Britain since 1973, and that legalisation will benefit only mega corporations and their allies in Big Tobacco, this trio of fools flies across the Atlantic to make propaganda for Big Dope. For the sake of balance, I wonder, will these same MPs go to Japan to learn how enforcement of the drug laws deters use? Of course not.

What this disgraceful sojourn shows, amongst many other things, is that there is no real difference between the three largest political parties in the UK. No party that supports this reckless and stupid policy will ever have my vote. I hope other voters will make the same pledge.

Mary Sowerby death: Son jailed for stabbing mum as she watched TV

BBC News | 24 July 2019 |

“The defendant was experiencing hallucinations, hearing voices and tried to cope by drinking and smoking cannabis.”

A man who stabbed his mum to death in a “brutal and frenzied” attack as she watched TV has been jailed for life.

Lee Sowerby, 45, stabbed Mary Annie Sowerby “with the largest kitchen knife possible” in her home in Dearham, Cumbria, on 22 January.

Preston Crown Court heard the 69-year-old was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and neck and died at the scene.

Sowerby pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of 11 years.

Judge Mark Brown QC described Sowerby as “extremely dangerous”.

He said: “This was a brutal and frenzied attack on a victim who had no chance.

“You had considered ending her life for some time.

“The bitter ironies are that your mother had been devoted to you and done her very best for you.

Lee Sowerby

Prosecutor Tim Evans told the court that Sowerby had a history of mental health issues dating back to the mid-90s after taking drugs “as part of the rave scene”.

The court heard he had been diagnosed with Paranoia Schizophrenia and had previously been the subject of two hospital orders by courts, including in 2008 when he was “millimetres away” from stabbing his brother’s ex girlfriend.

He was given an absolute discharge in 2012 but by October 2018 his mental health was deteriorating as he refused to take his medication, the court was told.

A week before he stabbed his mum, Sowerby was taken by his father Leonard to a mental health team after he had walked to Dearham in the middle of the night.

Mr Evans said: “The defendant was experiencing hallucinations, hearing voices and tried to cope by drinking and smoking cannabis.

“Mr Sowerby senior was plainly seeking to support his son.”

In a victim impact statement, the Sowerby family said the death had been “devastating” and expressed “frustrations of failures at the hands of the mental health services”.

The judge said there were “justifiable concerns” about how the case had been handled, adding: “It does seem there should be some investigation or inquiry as to what has gone wrong.”

Sowerby had initially been charged with murder but his guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.


Samuel King, from Ashford, jailed for attempting to rape woman in Dane John Gardens, Canterbury

Kent Online | 4 Nov 2016 |

The victim had been drinking in a city bar in May this year and was on her way home when she was spotted by the cousins, who had been drinking and smoking cannabis.


Violent husband slashed wife from mouth to ear with Rambo-style knife as they watched TV

Liverpool Echo | 17 July 2019 |

Adrian Sword attacked his partner of 32 years after an argument broke out over cannabis, while the couple watched TV, in their Wirral home.

A violent husband told his wife “your claret will be all over my tiles” as he sliced her from mouth to ear with a Rambo-style knife.

Adrian Sword attacked his partner of 32 years after an argument broke out over cannabis, while the couple watched TV, in their Wirral home.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how at around 11.30pm, on March 30, the 54-year-old picked up the frightening 8ins long bladed weapon, placed one hand over his wife Jacqueline’s mouth and swiped the knife across her right cheek.

The court heard the dad-of-two, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, had become “angry” that his wife had taken some of his cannabis and then erupted after he accused her of selling some of it.

In a fit of rage the grandad chillingly told his wife “your claret will be all over my tiles” – in reference to her blood – before slicing her face, causing a deep, 10cm wound.

Following the attack Sword went to the house of a friend and said: “I’ve done Jackie.”

Judge Gary Woodhall said: “You told your friend you had cut your wife’s throat and you said ‘the knife was f*****g sharp’

“You then said both ‘I hope I have not killed her’ and ‘I hope I have killed her’.”

Prosecutor Simon Duncan told the court how, after the attack, Sword tried to barricade himself into his friend’s home.

Mr Duncan said: “The defendant attempted to barricade the back door.

“He has a machete and talked about ‘going down fighting’

“His friend told him ‘don’t be stupid’.

“The defendant then handed over the machete to another friend who had arrived.

“I hope I have not killed her, I hope I have killed her”

“When the police did turn up the defendant came out the house alone and there was no issue with his arrest.”

On his arrest for [sic] Sword told Merseyside Police: “I don’t know what you are on about”.

He subsequently answered no comment to many questions when interviewed but claimed that his wife of 12 years had in fact sliced her own face, in a bid to “stitch him up”, because he said “I was going to leave her”.

In a victim impact statement read by defence barrister Nicholas Walker, Mrs Sword told how she can’t sleep since the attack on March 30.

She described her husband as having multiple personalities one which she said was “horrible and violent”.

Reading her statement Mr Walker said: “Mrs Sword says she is struggling on a daily basis even though that is with the knowledge that the defendant is locked away and he can’t get to her now.”

Mrs Sword, who has been left with considerable scarring, said she feels “nervous, scared and paranoid” thinking that people are staring at her when she goes out.

Mr Walker added: “She said ‘I can’t wait to go back home when I do venture out because I feel safer indoors’.”

The 57-year-old also told how the events of that evening come “flooding back” to her every time she looks in the mirror and sees her injury.

“It’s like I’m watching a DVD that keeps playing over and over.

“I feel like I am on a roller coaster and then what happens hits me like a sledge hammer.

“I try and put on a front in front of my kids and grand children but inside I’m a complete wreck.”

The statement added: “There are no winners [in this case], I have lost my husband. Their kids have lost their dad and the grandchildren their grandad.

“We are all grieving.

“I wish I could turn the clock back.

“I want to try and rebuild my life, I don’t want this to ruin what life I have left.

“I didn’t think this would be my future after being with him for 32 years.”

However despite the horrendous attack, which Judge Woodhall described as “calculating”, Mrs Sword was in court to support her husband.

And in court she stood up and said: “I still love him and want us to work it out.

“I have been with him 30 odd years and I can’t just chuck that away for one night of madness.”

Sword, of Hopfield Road in Moreton, has no previous convictions for violence, however the court heard five days before the attack he had thrown a beer can and glass at his wife, in another argument.

‘I still love him and want to work it out’

For the majority of the hearing and in particular when hearing his wife’s comments, he cried and asked for tissues.

Nicholas Walker, defending, told the court how his client is “ashamed” of his actions and “utterly remorseful”.

He said: “He is distraught at what he has done to his wife of three decades.

“He can’t believe he did it and told me he is ashamed.

“He has tried to kill himself on a number of occasions and said he can’t live with what he has done.”

‘He said he can’t live with what he has done’

Mr Walker said a combination of alcohol and drug abuse coupled with a number of “very sad events” in his client’s life, including the death of a friend, nephew and grandchildren had led Sword to “snap”.

He said he suffered with mental health problems and depression.

Sentencing Sword to nine years for wounding with intent, Judge Woodhall said: “The wound you caused to your wife’s face is very significant.

“It stretches from the corner of her mouth to her ear.

“She required 15 stitches and although the muscle was visible thankfully no nerve damage was caused.

“I saw pictures of the wound and I have seen your wife in the court room today and she will suffer a scar to a prominent part of her face for the rest of her life.

“It was a very serious injury.”

Sword will serve half of his sentence in custody and half on licence.


Murderer jailed for life after ‘frenzied’ baseball bat attack on ‘brother’

16 May 2019 | Bristol Post |

Dr Tomison said Osman admitted using a lot of cannabis as well as the drug spice.

A man has been jailed for life after murdering his friend in a ‘frenzied attack’ with a baseball bat in an Easton flat last year.

Mahamud Osman, 38, of Perry Street, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 14 years before being considered for parole at Bristol Crown Court this afternoon (Thursday, May 16) following a week-long trial.

He was arrested last year after police were called to an address in Pirie Court, Perry Street shortly before 1.45pm on November 11, 2018.

The following day Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed a man, later named as 40-year-old Hassan Hagi, had died at the scene.

Officers and paramedics found Mr Hagi in the living room of the flat and one officer attempted CPR, however it is thought he was likely to have been dead since the previous evening.

It was revealed during the course of the trial, which began on May 7, that Osman and Mr Hagi had been like ‘brothers’ and the pair had been drinking together over the course of a three-day period.

However the jury heard how on the night in question an argument had allegedly broken out between the two, which had quickly descended into violence.

In his evidence Osman – who was suffering from alcohol dependence and PTSD as a result of his early life in Somalia – had claimed he was acting in self-defence, however this claim was rejected by the jury.

The jury, which had retired to consider its verdict at noon yesterday, returned a majority 11-1 guilty verdict shortly after 2pm today.

During his sentencing remarks, The Honourable Mr Justice Murray described how the ‘savagery’ of the attack meant Osman’s has surpassed the 15-year starting point for imprisonment, and stated that Osman’s delay in calling the police following the attack were aggravating factors in the case.

The baseball bat used during the attack (Image: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

Following the violent assault on Hagi, Osman apparently made no efforts to clean the flat and only called police some 13 or 14 hours later.

Justice Murray described the incident as a ‘frenzied attack’, in which Osman had struck Hagi some 60 times – breaking all of his ribs and even bruising his heart.

Upon sentencing the judge said: “It may be the case that you will never be released again.”

Mr Hagi’s family have today released a moving tribute, following Osman’s conviction.

They said: “We are still at a loss and deeply saddened by the loss of Hassan.

“This trial may be over today, but our pain and the nightmare of losing Hassan to this horrific murder is far from over.

“We cannot imagine the pain and the suffering of this loss has caused to our parents and indeed, we cannot and will never comprehend the amount violence and physical trauma that Hassan suffered in the hands of this evil man.

“Hassan was a very kind, gentle and extremely generous soul. He had a tremendous impact on our lives, especially in the lives of his much beloved younger cousins, whom he had spent a great deal of time and care.

“His life was taken away from us and nothing will ever fill the void that it has left behind.

“We love Hassan and he was very much loved by everyone. We pray that when justice is served, it will prevent this evil man from committing another heinous crime again.

“Hassan was an honest, respectful and very charismatic person. We will miss him more than words can ever express.”

DI Neil Rice, of the regional major crime investigation team, said: “This has been a distressing ordeal for Hassan’s family who’ve had to listen to evidence about the brutal attack on him, carried out by Osman.

“We’re thinking of them at this incredibly difficult time and thank them for their help, patience and understanding while we investigated this terrible crime.

“This conviction is the result of a detailed inquiry by regional investigators, neighbourhood officers, forensic experts and scenes of crime officers.

“On behalf of all the staff involved I’d like to thank the witnesses who’ve provided statements and those who bravely gave live evidence during the trial.

“I also want to thank the local community for their support and patience during the initial days of our investigation when roads were closed and access was restricted as we gathered evidence.”


The attentive reader will notice that the above article does not contain the quote at the top of this blog post. For that, one has to read the Bristol Post‘s updates from the trial, here: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/live-court-easton-murder-trial-2839626

You can see the problem with this. As in hundreds of other cases, the final news report does not mention that the perpetrator of yet another act of ‘frenzied’ and psychopathic violence had smoked copious amounts of cannabis. 

Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah): ‘2+2=?’

In his latest column for the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens, author of The War We Never Fought: the British Establishment’s Surrender to Drugsasks if, following yet another case of a heavy cannabis smoker committing a terrible act of psychopathic violence, our police and politicians can put two and two together: Here’s a really hard quiz for our media and governing classes : 2+2 =?

As I wrote in my recent piece for Bournbrook magazine (see previous post), stoner logic is more akin to Big Brother’s insistence that two and two can make five, if they so wish: ‘regulate cannabis’, as if that will make it safe; ‘impose a minimum age’, as if that won’t be circumvented; ‘take it out of the hands of criminals’, and put it in the hands of Philip Morris. What nightmare will they find for me in Room 101, I wonder?

Blood-drinking son admits stabbing mum to death after claiming he’d ‘died for the Devil’

Gazette Live | 12 July 2019 |

The mother and son both had difficulties with drugs and mental health, his disorder seemingly brought on by cannabis and cocaine use in his teens.

A mentally ill man stabbed his own mother to death in their home.

Ian McKenzie, 34, killed his mother four to six days after he stopped taking potent anti-psychotic medication which kept him stable in the community.

The troubled son, who has paranoid schizophrenia, walked into Middlesbrough police station with a friend and confessed to the killing on March 20.

He said he attacked her after she refused to forgive him for stabbing her neck, and drinking her blood, when he was 16.

His mother Alison McKenzie, 55, suffered stab wounds to the head and neck, one of which severed the jugular vein, at their home in Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough.

The killer claimed he had took his own life by jumping off a bridge in front of a train the previous day, but had “come back to life”.

“He couldn’t understand why she’d not come back to life,” said prosecutor Nick Dry.

“He said he’d died for the devil, put his mother out of her misery and everybody in his head had been telling him to do it.”

The mother and son both had difficulties with drugs and mental health, his disorder seemingly brought on by cannabis and cocaine use in his teens.

He heard voices, had drug-induced delusional thoughts and was admitted to a mental health facility from 2006 to 2009.

By January this year he was thought to be stable and posing low risk, but stopped taking his medication and started having delusional and violent thoughts days before the killing.

He denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The Crown accepted his plea following unanimous agreement between three psychiatrists.

McKenzie, of Ingram Road, Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough, appeared at Teesside Crown Court via video link to the town’s Roseberry Park hospital.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, gave him a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

He can only be released by agreement of the Home Secretary or a mental health review tribunal.

Psychiatrist Dr Christopher Green told the court: “I can’t see Mr McKenzie being released from hospital in the foreseeable future.”


Guilty of murder: Stephen Charlton convicted of strangling Middlesbrough mum

Gazette Live | 29 Apr 2019 |

“I wasn’t going to get tablets… I had cannabis.”

Natalie Saunders died following an “orgy of violence” during which she received over 50 separate blows to her body and 85 injuries, the trial heard.

Charlton, 24, of Finsbury Street, Gresham, Middlesbrough, had denied murdering her at her home in Tomlinson Way, Brambles Farm, Middlesbrough…

The prosecutor says the couple spent the day together on October 6. That evening they went to Grove Hill where cannabis and probably diazepam were bought… Stephen Charlton told him [clinical care assistant Stephen Bell] they had taken 10 diazepam tablets, he had been smoking weed since 8pm the previous evening as well as drinking vodka and bottles of lager…

Makepeace [prosecuting]: “How are you going to get your tablets?”
Charlton: “I wasn’t going to get tablets… I had cannabis”.’


Andrew Timney convicted of manslaughter and jailed for 14 years after death of Jason Dean

Gazette Live | 28 May 2019 |

Results from Timney’s blood tests, carried out 18 hours after the incident, showed the use of cocaine, cannabis and the sleep-inducing drug zopiclone.

A man accused of killing his neighbour has been locked up for 14 years after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

Andrew Timney had denied murdering 43-year-old Jason Dean in what the prosecution described as a “sustained attack” in the victim’s Bankfields flat.

Mr Dean was found unconscious in a communal corridor with fractured ribs, cuts, bruises and internal bleeding. He died despite attempts to resuscitate him.

Timney, of Brackenfield Court, Bankfields, Eston, said he thought Mr Dean was “messing about” when he suddenly collapsed.

He told jurors he heard a “bang or a thud” and saw his neighbour lying on his back in the doorway outside his kitchen.

After a two-and-a-half week murder trial, the jury retired to begin its deliberations on Friday afternoon at Teesside Crown Court and returned to deliver a verdict on Tuesday.

Timney, 30, was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury and jailed for 14 years by the Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC.


Where were you?

Where were you when you heard about a man being stabbed to death on a train on 4 January this year? I remember where I was when I heard about the attacks of 11 September, 2001 (on a high school ‘retreat’ in a beautiful redwood forest in California) and 7 July, 2005 (about to walk our dogs), and the deaths of Dianna Spencer and Michael Jackson. 51-year-old victim Lee Pomeroy wasn’t a celebrity, and his sudden and violent death is of no apparent national or international significance, but I remember hearing about it on the day itself on BBC News as I waited for my turn at the barber’s.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I remember reading about it, on the scrolling news reel. I’d been running this website for several months by then, and had learnt to spot the signs of a psychopathic attack committed by someone whose mind is ‘steeped’ in cannabis (a simple task, if one isn’t closed to any criticism of this popular pleasure drug). As soon as I read the headline, therefore, I knew that the perpetrator would a) have stabbed his victim multiple times in a frenzy of violence, b) not evade capture for long, and c) turn out to have smoked vast amounts of cannabis for many years.

Sure enough, after stabbing Mr Pomeroy 18 times, Darren Pencille embarked on a pitiful and shameful attempt to evade capture by altering his appearance, aided by his repulsive girlfriend, which came to nothing. His claim that he acted in self defence, and his refusal to testify during the trial further showed that his once fertile mind had been turned into a nuclear wasteland. It came as no surprise when, a week before he was found guilty yesterday, it emerged that he smoked cannabis every day. 

As with countless other cases, I do not say that cannabis caused this attack. Violence is a voluntary action; nothing causes it. But just as there is a flagrant link between alcohol and many fights in city centres on Saturday nights, so there is blatant connection between Pencille’s heavy consumption of cannabis and his sudden decision to murder a man who had briefly blocked his passage in the aisle of a train from Guildford to London, and then stood up for himself in front of his teenage son when challenged and mocked about it. Those whose minds are steeped in drink do not commit such crimes. Their violence is always deplorable, often traumatic and occasionally fatal, but it is not frenzied and sustained. There are now too many similar cases for this terrible problem to be ignored. Here are some of them:

  1. Tragic Kane, 10, praised for bravery after saving life of girl from Coupar Angus killer: ‘Kane Morris, from Coupar Angus, died on November 11 last year after he was stabbed in his bed six times by his father Karl Morris, also known as Andrew. An eight-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was stabbed in her lung and survived the attack. Paramedics found that Kane, after being stabbed once in the chest and five times in the back, attempted to reach the room where the girl had been sleeping. At the High Court in Glasgow, Morris, 38, admitted a charge of culpable homicide, reduced from murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, accepting he fatally struck Kane several times with a knife. He also admitted a charge of attempted murder against the girl and a third charge of possessing cannabis on November 11 last year.’ (19 June 2019)
  2. Teen who stabbed Joan Hoggett to death warned medics a year earlier: ‘Someone will get killed’: ‘Mountain [the defendant] said he started taking cannabis at age 15 but cut back because he experienced “profound hallucinations”.’ (11 Mar 2019)
  3. Reading man jailed for killing father of two in random attack in Bracknell: ‘Sentencing, Judge Paul Dugdale said: “I find that it is more likely than not that Liam Turner was not suffering from either schizophrenia or from a schizoaffective disorder at the time of the murder.” He instead theorised that a mixture of anti-social behaviour, anger, stress, alcohol and cannabis abuse were more important factors.’ (12 Feb 2019)
  4. Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open: ‘Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.’ (16 June 2018)
  5. Predator jailed for ‘wicked’ murder of barmaid: ‘Fuelled by cocaine, cannabis and alcohol, Kasim Lewis, 31, attacked 22-year-old Iuliana Tudos with a bottle, and carved what appeared to be a Batman logo on her chest.’ (17 May 2018)
  6. Drug-crazed schizophrenic Polish warehouse worker broke into a family home and stabbed a mother-of-two to death while her helpless husband listened on the phone: ‘Porczynski, who was later found to have cocaine and cannabis in his system, seemed ‘distant’ and ‘confused’ but after searching him he was released. But he then went the short distance to his house at 10.50pm and armed himself with a kitchen knife, the court heard. Porczynski, who admitted smoking cannabis, returned around 11.20pm and first smashed his way into her next door neighbour’s house, Mr Shar, but ran away when he confronted him.’ (17 Dec 2016)
  7. Femi Nandap: Mentally ill student handed indefinite hospital order for Dr Jeroen Ensink murder: ‘The court heard Nandap’s mental illness began after he began to use cannabis heavily while living in the United States.’ (10 Oct 2016)
  8. Family of decapitated woman tell of despair as killer cleared of murder: ‘[The defendant’s] friends told police he regularly smoked skunk cannabis, took cocaine and had been known to drink whole bottles of spirits each day.’ (23 June 2015)
  9. Youth jailed for double murder: ‘Curran told the court he had spent most of that day drinking and taking drugs. He had been drinking vodka and alcopops and smoking cannabis. He had also taken between 15 and 20 Diazepam pills. He said the effect was the same as usual. He was “off [his] head”.’ (7 May 2010)
  10. Care in the Community patient with 39 convictions free to stab father to death in cannabis-induced psychosis: ‘A violent psychopath who stabbed a young father to death four months after walking free from court over another brutal attack has been jailed for life. Colin Welsh, 42, was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison today as a judge described him as ‘clearly dangerous’. After 20 years of smoking powerful cannabis the paranoid schizophrenic believed a ‘transmitting device’ had been implanted inside his inner ear by criminals to send him mad.’ (16 Mar 2010)
  11. ‘NHS failed to investigate why mental patient was free to murder my son’: ‘McKenzie, 25, had a history of mental illness but was being cared for in the community. He had stopped taking his medication and was smoking cannabis before he bought a carving knife and murdered the sound engineer.’ (25 Feb 2010)
  12. Schizophrenic cannabis user jailed for stabbing policeman to death: ‘The jury heard that 36-year-old Pc Henry was called to George Street in Luton just after 7am after Obih had stabbed window cleaner Stephen Chamberlain. As he tried to arrest him, the paranoid schizophrenic knifed Pc Henry, then stabbed him with the 4.5in (11.5cm) blade a second time as he lay on the ground.’ (24 Mar 2009)
  13. Doctors knew my son’s killer was a mentally ill skunk user: ‘Tung Minh Le, 17, was stabbed once in the heart in an “unprovoked, unpredicted [sic] and inexplicable” attack as he left a West End nightclub. His 18-year-old killer Chien Nguyen had become ill after starting to smoke cannabis at the age of 13.’ (12 Feb 2009)
  14. Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity: ‘The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.’ (4 Feb 2009)
  15. ‘I’ve been on telly… I’ve just murdered some guy’: Killer’s boast after stabbing disabled man: ‘Lorenzo Alonzi, defending, said that Kean, of George Street, Ayr, had a serious drug problem which began with him smoking cannabis when he was just 11. He added that at the time of the offence, Kean was taking 50 diazepam tablets a day combined with 50ml of methadone and cannabis.’ (14 Oct 2008)
  16. Teen guilty of dog walker murder: ‘Adrian Jones, 17, beat Kelly Hyde, 24, from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, around the head with a barbell. Jones did not know his victim and police said they still did not know his motive. He sobbed in the dock as the verdict was read out… He told the jury he came across a dog lead used by Ms Hyde as he walked along the bridle path smoking cannabis on the day she disappeared.’ (17 July 2008)
  17. Cannabis addict jailed for life for stabbing Good Samaritan to death as he tried to protect elderly neighbour: ‘Rafiq Kashmiri, 50, launched the frenzied attack on Jon Cooper-Taylor after he rushed upstairs to help the 83-year-old woman after hearing the sound of crockery smashing in her flat… Psychiatrists discovered he was suffering from a manic episode bipolar disorder caused by a long history of cannabis dependency and abuse which caused ‘uncontrollable violence’. (16 July 2008)
  18. Why Shane Haynes killed Geraldine Brocklehurst remains mystery: ‘A 22-YEAR-OLD man will spend at least 16 years behind bars for murdering a Huddersfield prostitute. But the reason why cannabis-smoking Shane Haynes stabbed 40-year-old Geraldine Brocklehurst – leaving her to bleed to death – are [sic] unclear.’ (1 Mar 2008)
  19. ‘I’d like to execute the thugs who kicked my husband to death’, says the grief-stricken widow of Garry Newlove: ‘The gang was also high on skunk cannabis when they attacked the father-of-three when he remonstrated with them for vandalising his wife’s car.’ (12 Feb 2008)
  20. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman:  ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
  21. Youth guilty of Dundee murder:  ‘The court heard that McIntosh [the defendant], who had been smoking cannabis, alarmed three strollers on Law Hill with his odd behaviour shortly before the killing.’ (17 Apr 2002)

A response to an article by the UK Cannabis Social Club (@UKCannabisclubs)

I have just posted the following comment in response to this article, ‘Shameless: Prohibitionists Exploit Murder To Smear Cannabis Consumers’, on the website of something called the UK Cannabis Social Club.

Ross Grainger here, creator of the offending site, attackersmokedcannabis.com. You seem perplexed by my claim that cannabis does not cause violence, but that certain crimes would not have happened if the person had never smoked cannabis: ‘So he admits that cannabis didn’t cause the actions of the individual concerned, but that the individual would not have taken these actions if he had not smoked cannabis!’ Replace ‘cannabis’ with ‘alcohol’ and perhaps the sentence will make sense. Violence is a voluntary action. Nothing causes it. Or, inversely, no action that is caused by something is voluntary. But just as one can look at many a drunken fight in a city centre and say ‘That would not have happened if the men weren’t drunk’, so one can look at, say, a 16-year-old boy raping and murdering a six-year-old girl in the middle of the night and say ‘That would not have happened if he had not smoked cannabis from age 14 and been, in his own words, “really stoned” at the time.’

I also dispute the following:

  • That the evidence consists only of ‘tabloid headlines’: I provide a link to the full story in the original newspaper, many of which (e.g., Times, Guardian, Independent, local papers) are not ‘tabloids’. Furthermore, ‘tabloid’ is a smear by which you mean to suggest the stories are not true. If you think this, you should say so, and drop the snide insinuation.
  • The idea that if cannabis were legal a 16-year-old would not be able to obtain it, when the examples of cigarettes and alcohol show that youngsters would acquire it with ease.
  • That the number of cases I have compiled is ‘small’. In any case, they are merely the tip of the iceberg, and the result of one man searching online. Part of the inquiry that I petition(ed) for would ascertain exactly how common a factor cannabis is in violent crime and suicide. Bear in mind also that many thousands more cannabis smokers become mentally ill without physically harming anyone, except perhaps themselves, becoming merely burdens to their families and dependent on the state.

Either cannabis is a relevant factor in the cases I cite, or it is not. How about we find out before we think about legalising it?

The Evening Standard (@standardnews) hasn’t always been so modish and stupid about cannabis

The Evening Standard recently launched a cannabis legalisation drive masquerading as an ‘investigation’ into the cannabis zeitgeist. Allied with something called VolteFace, which wouldn’t do a ‘volte face’ on cannabis if one of the psychopaths listed on my site stabbed them in the face, the free London daily has decided that legalisation of this powerful psychoactive drug is a cause worth fighting for.

The paper didn’t use to be this way, though. Prior to 2009, when it launched its curious ‘Sorry’ campaign around London, the Standard reported on cannabis as responsibly as any paper ever has done. Here are some headlines from the archives:

And there it ends, since when they’ve been more interested in such urgent developments as the availability of ‘cannabis-infused, vegan frozen yoghurt’ in the capital, along with the usual praise of apparent health benefits, Canada and the cannabis oil that may or may not have cured the epileptic fits of a British boy whose mother, one learns elsewhere, makes money from selling said oil at £500 a bottle.

One horrifying story shows the full extent of this alteration. On 17 January 2018, 19-year-old Jamil Jabbie was given an indefinite hospital order for an unprovoked attack on his mother in which he bit her, pulled out a clump of her hair, stabbed her 23 times, stole her house keys and mobile phone battery, and fled. Only Talk Radio chose a headline that points to what many would consider the heart of the matter: ‘London teenager pleads guilty to stabbing mother 23 times in “cannabis-linked attack”’. Mail Online chose ‘Skunk user who bit, throttled and stabbed his mother 23 times in drug-induced frenzy leaving her fighting for her life is detained in hospital indefinitely’. The phrase ‘cannabis-induced frenzy’, which follows in the first paragraph, would be more accurate, but in any case, the story is there, and the culprit’s use of cannabis prominently noted. By contrast, the Evening Standard did not cover the story at all, even though the attack occurred at the family’s home in Peckham, south-east London. Two weeks earlier, the free London daily had seen fit to publish a story with the headline ‘If cannabis can be legal in LA, why not do the same in Britain?’ Perhaps they didn’t consider young Mr Jabbie’s stabbing frenzy the right answer to this modish question.

Why the change? It might be because the paper’s editor, George Osborne, works for BlackRock, the largest fund manager in the world, which pays £650,000 a year for the weekly services of the former Chancellor, and is invested in GW Pharmaceuticals, which grows around £800m of cannabis for “medical” purposes, in a remote area of Norfolk not far from the frontiers of the constituency of Sir Norman Lamb MP. Of course, should the cannabis-based medicine GW makes turn out to be unprofitable, or unhelpful for the tiny number of ill people who may or may not benefit from it, the company will be placed to profit from the legalisation of the pleasure drug if and when that occurs.