Pubdate: Tue, 09 Oct 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Thair Shaikh
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Woman Wanted Son And Daughter To Avoid Dealers . Judge Accepts Plea 
Of Previous Good Character

A former primary school teaching assistant who admitted supplying 
cannabis to her son and daughter so they would not approach street 
dealers was yesterday spared jail but ordered to carry out 200 hours 
of community service. Nicola Cooper, 43, told police that she did not 
want her children, aged 16 and 18, lured into trying harder drugs, so 
she herself supplied them with cannabis.

She made the admission after police found 116 gms of cannabis resin 
worth around UKP200 at her home in Ixworth, Suffolk. Speaking outside 
court yesterday, Cooper said she regretted breaking the law. "Some 
people give their children alcohol and cigarettes at an early age - 
but I gave mine cannabis," she said.

Cooper resigned from her job as a support assistant at Barrow primary 
school near Bury St Edmunds after being charged with supplying cannabis.

She said she had been an occasional cannabis smoker since she was 18, 
and when she found out that her teenage children had been smoking the 
drug they all sat down as a family to discuss it.

Her partner, Ian Leppard, 51, said: "We didn't want them to hide it, 
but told them that it was not big or clever and they should be 
responsible. We made a family decision that they should not go around 
shouting about it. Cannabis was something we just had in the house. 
We have no idea how the police became involved."

Cooper was arrested when a police officer spoke to her at a local 
hotel where she was having dinner with her mother and told her he had 
a warrant to search her home. She then took the officer to her house 
and showed him her stash of cannabis on June 15.

Kevin McCarthy, defending, told St Edmundsbury magistrates court that 
she was of previous good character and had wanted to avoid her 
children "being exposed to the world of drug dealing".

District Judge David Cooper said he had at first considered giving 
Cooper a suspended jail sentence, but had chosen a community penalty instead.

Cooper said after the hearing that she still felt she had done "the 
right thing" in giving cannabis to her children. But she and her 
children had given up smoking the drug, because they did not want to 
get caught again.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman