Cannabis smoking tip-off came from feuding neighbour

Published date: 22 January 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A HEALTH and safety manager at an international wind farm company was suspended from his job after an anonymous tip-off that he had been smoking cannabis in a neighbour's house, a court was told.

After negative test results and being reinstated a few days later, Graham Lewis was determined to find out who was behind the call and traced it to another neighbour, ex-policeman Richard Williams.

Magistrates in Prestatyn heard it was the latest development in a dispute between the neighbours who live in the village of Betws Gwerfil Goch, near Corwen.

In 2011, Williams, 50, was given a three-year conditional discharge after being found guilty of assaulting Mr Lewis by slapping him after spilling some beer on him before a rugby match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Mr Lewis told the court yesterday that after arriving at a wind park site in Sweden in June, 2013, he was summoned to an interview and told a call had been received at the Warrington office of his employers, Vestas Offshore UK, that he had been seen smoking cannabis with Leanne Edwards, who lived between them in a house rented from Mr Lewis.

Because of the nature of his job as a health and safety manager, that constituted gross misconduct and could have resulted in his dismissal.

Within 24 hours, Mr Lewis produced negative results in an official company test and another which he himself arranged.

At first he suspected that the caller was from someone involved in one of the wind farm developments but when given the number of the caller he traced it to Williams, who runs an antique furniture business.

Williams told police he had seen Mr Lewis smoking a “reefer” in Miss Edwards’ house from his own house but Miss Edwards and Mr Lewis denied such an incident had ever occurred.

He said that as an experienced police officer he recognised a “reefer” and felt he had to report the incident because Mr Lewis had such a responsible job.

He told the court: “I thought about it for two to three weeks before deciding, ‘Damn it, I have to do the right thing’.”

Miss Edwards said although she had not smoked cannabis since 2007 she occasionally smoked a rolled-up cigarette, but she did not believe Mr Lewis had ever smoked cannabis.

Williams denied sending a communication conveying false information, a charge brought under the Malicious Communications Act, but was found guilty.

He was given an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay Mr Lewis £500 in compensation. He was also ordered to pay costs of £500 and a surcharge of £80.

The magistrates also imposed an indefinite restraining order preventing Williams from contacting Mr Lewis or his employers.

In a victim impact statement Mr Lewis, who had to take two weeks off work with stress following the incident, said he felt angry about his neighbour’s conduct and felt threatened and intimidated by him.

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