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Need for weed 'Breaking Bad' OAP who grew cannabis to help daughter-in-law in pain avoids jail

Patrick Smyth revealed she is now having to take heavy doses of morphine as he’s no longer able to supply her

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OAP Patrick Smyth in Newry this week

OAP Patrick Smyth in Newry this week

OAP Patrick Smyth in Newry this week

This is the brave OAP who risked going to prison by growing cannabis because he couldn’t live with seeing his daughter-in-law in unbearable pain.

Patrick Smyth turned ‘Breaking Bad’ and started making his own cannabis products to help his son’s wife who was suffering from a severe form of multiple sclerosis.

He’s now a convicted drug dealer and would almost certainly have gone to prison had a judge not taken a lenient view of his drug ‘pushing’ motivation.

Instead, the 70-year-old walked away from Newry Crown Court this week with an order to serve 120 hours’ community service.

On Friday Smyth, from Liska Manor, Newry, politely told us he didn’t want to speak about his case.

However, he confirmed his daughter-in-law had got “great benefit” from using the cannabis products he made and supplied.

And he also revealed she is now having to take heavy doses of morphine as he’s no longer able to supply her and she can’t source it legally.

“It was helping with the pain relief and it was giving her great benefit,” he said.

“I know I broke the law but now she’s on morphine several times a day – how is that any better?

“The judge was brilliant with me; I have to say. I know you have a job to do but I really don’t want to get into the whole case but thanks for asking.”

Sentencing the pensioner in the “extraordinary and unique” case on Thursday, Judge Gordon Kerr QC outlined how during a routine traffic stop on October 2, 2020, officers noted a “strong smell of cannabis” coming from the pensioner’s car.

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That led cops to search his home at Liska Manor in Newry where they uncovered a number of cannabis plants in addition to some “cannabis products” including oils and tablets, while an examination of his mobile phone “showed a number of texts that he had provided oil and was trying to make tablets”.

Arrested and interviewed, Smyth claimed it was all for personal use and refused to name the person from whom he bought the cannabis oil, cream and tablets.

The pensioner later entered guilty pleas to cultivating cannabis, having cannabis with intent to supply, supplying the class B drug and producing cannabis, all committed on various dates between November 1, 2018 and October 2, 2020.

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Smyth speaks to reporter Steven Moore

Smyth speaks to reporter Steven Moore

Smyth speaks to reporter Steven Moore

Defence counsel Kevin O’Hare said the “extraordinary and unique” case arose because Smyth was trying to help his daughter-in-law who suffers from MS, as using cannabis had “an extremely positive impact” for her.

Comparing it to a “local version of Breaking Bad,” the barrister said that in the fullness of time, “history may well judge his position generously”.

Commenting that Breaking Bad “didn’t end well” and unlike Smyth’s offences Walter White’s enterprise “was certainly profitable,” Judge Kerr said given the background and exceptionality in the case, that justified a different approach than the usual prison sentence.

“I’m satisfied that in my view, in substitution for a custodial sentence a community order is the appropriate result,” concluded the judge.

One in five people with MS surveyed by the MS Society recently admitted they’d used cannabis to help with symptoms.

They said it can help with muscle spasms or stiffness and pain and according to the charity some people with MS use cannabis in a variety of ways to help ease their symptoms.

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Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Cannabis is made up of compounds called cannabinoids. The main ones studied for their therapeutic effect are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gets you ‘high’, and cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t.

In November 2018, the UK government legalised cannabis for medicinal use, but put a strict criterion on who could access it.

Only specialist doctors are allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis, and so far only a handful of people have benefited.

There’s a medically approved cannabis-based treatment called Sativex, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it’s approved for use on the NHS for ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ spasticity (muscle spasms and stiffness). But you can have it only if other treatments haven’t worked.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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