Dope flat mum-to-be has jail term cut

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A PREGNANT woman jailed because her boyfriend was growing dope in their flat has been freed by top judges on appeal.

Sarah Rhiannon Pilkington, aged 21, of Deerlands Avenue, Parson Cross, Sheffield, was five months’ pregnant when she was handed an eight-month jail term in March at Sheffield Crown Court.

Pilkington told police the 14 plants being grown by her boyfriend in a spare bedroom were “nowt to do with her” when officers attended their flat following reports of a break-in.

But she pleaded guilty to allowing the premises to be used for the cultivation of cannabis, on the basis she knew the illegal plants were being grown in her home.

Now Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice McDuff, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, have cut her sentence to six weeks, allowing her to walk free.

Delivering the judgement of the court, Mr Justice McDuff said: “The statement it was ‘nowt to do with her’ in one sense may have been true. It was her boyfriend’s enterprise and his cannabis.

“But in another sense it was to do with her, because they were her premises.”

Going on to allow the appeal, he said a jail term of some length would normally be appropriate but in the “most unusual circumstances of this case” a community order ought to have been passed.

He said because of Pilkington’s age, early guilty plea, lack of involvement, previous good character and pregnancy, she ought not to have been jailed.

However, given she has already served the equivalent of 42 days behind bars, Mr Justice McDuff said it would not be appropriate now to give her a community order.

“An immediate custodial term was not necessary - this sentence was manifestly excessive,” the judge concluded, cutting her term to six weeks, which she has already served.