A judge has shown mercy on a former guardsman who grew his own cannabis to help him cope with the horrific memories of being blown up in the Gulf War.
Christopher Tull set up a cannabis farm with 89 plants growing under lights at his North Devon home and planned to use the drug to alleviate symptoms of claustrophobia and Gulf War Syndrome.
He escaped with a suspended sentence after a Judge told him that he deserved sympathy because he had suffered in the service of his country.
Tull is a former Grenadier Guardsman who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after his Warrior armoured car was blown up during the first Gulf War in 1991.
He has now been offered support from the charity Combat Stress and the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Family Association (SSAFA), and is due to receive specialist treatment at Headley Court in Surrey.
Tull, of Landhill Farm, Ashwater, near Beaworthy, admitted producing cannabis and was given a 14-week sentence suspended for 12 months and curfewed for three months by Recorder Mr David Bartlett at Exeter Crown Court.
He told him:”There should be special credit for someone who has served their country and suffered as a result.
“I am told you served with the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards in the first Gulf War and while there you were in a Warrior armoured car which was blown up, leaving you physically unharmed but mentally scarred and suffering from claustrophobia, Gulf War Syndrome and PTSD.
“The court has considerable sympathy for you in the circumstances but it does not and cannot entitle you to break the law as you appear to have been doing. I am told you now realise that and are taking steps to help yourself in other ways.
“I hope very much you will be able to avail yourself of the help at Headley Court and wean yourself off the pattern of serious criminal behaviour.
“It is one thing to use cannabis and quite another to cultivate it in these quantities for your own satisfaction.”
Mr James Taghdissian, prosecuting, said police raided Tull’s smallholding in July and found a hydroponic system and 89 plants in different rooms and varying stages of growth.
A police expert estimated the maximum value of the crop at £44,000 if it was all grown to maturity successfully and sold at top street prices.
Mr Taghdissian said it is accepted that he was only growing the drugs for his own use and had no intention of selling them.
He said:”He told the police in interview he used cannabis to help him deal with his medical problems and grown his won supply so he did not have to mix with and fork out money to disreputable sources.”
Mr Nick Bradley, defending, said Tull has been working with SSAFA for four years and is now receiving help from Combat Stress.
He said:”His claustrophobia originates from an incident in which he was in an armoured car which was blown up. His fear of confinement has followed that.”
Mr Bradley said Tull now accepts he will have to find other ways of treatment rather than using cannabis for self medication.