Pubdate: Wed, 28 Nov 2007
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Miles Godfrey
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


A former doorman at a cannabis cafe has been cleared of any wrong 
doing by a jury.

Mike Allday, 42, of Leconfield Road, Lancing, had faced charges of 
allowing the premises in Victoria Road, Worthing, to be used for 
dealing and using cannabis.

His arrest in August 2005 followed a police raid on the cafe.

Allday had maintained his innocence throughout the two years it took 
to bring him to trial.

And he was cleared in a unanimous verdict after two hours of 
deliberation by the jury at Croydon Crown Court.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus afterwards, Mr Allday said: "I 
always knew it would be not guilty. The foreman of the jury told me 
afterwards there was not a scrap of evidence to convict me.

"The police botched this raid. They set fire to the building and 
people were trapped inside at the time.

"The whole thing has been a farce from start to finish and the 
unanimous verdict of the jury proves it."

Heavy cutting equipment was needed by police to force their way into 
the five rooms on the first floor of the building.

More than 20 people were found there, lounging on sofas and chairs.

Around 260 small plastic bags, each containing cannabis, were 
discovered, as well as other paraphernalia connected with the drugs.

There were two sets of electronic scales and many empty plastic bags, 
as well as cannabis grinders.

Allday was not there at the time of the raid but when seen outside he 
said: "I have got nothing to do with the cafe."

A film of the police raid - named Operation Firebird - was shown to the jury.

Mr Allday, in evidence, claimed his only function had been as head of 
cafe security.

He maintained he had nothing to do with the management.

The case is the latest development in the long running battle between 
police and cannabis smokers in the area.

Officers have previously raided and successfully closed the 
Bongchuffa cafe in Rowlands Road, Worthing, along with the premises 
in Victoria Road.

However officers have been less successful in their attempts to close 
down the suspected cannabis cafe in Freshbrook Road, Lancing.

Three raids have been carried out on the heavily fortified building 
this year but on two occasions only small amounts of the drug have 
been recovered and on the last none was found at all.

Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs, Sussex Police's district commander 
for the Adur area, has said his force will continue to execute 
warrants on the building "as and when" it is felt necessary.

The police chief has told The Argus he wants to prevent drug dealers 
profiting from crime but said those who use small amounts of cannabis 
in their own homes were unlikely to be targeted. 
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