Driving ban for drug user after crash

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
6:30 AM

A cannabis user has been banned from driving after crashing into two cars while under the influence of the drug.

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Colin Wonnacott threw a bag containing between £2,500 and £4,500 worth of home grown cannabis over a hedge to try to stop the police finding it after the crash near Ottery, but officers could see he was under the influence and arrested him.

They later found more of the drug and 15 plants at a small cannabis farm at his home in Exmouth, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Wonnacott was a heavy user of the drug who took it to relieve muscle pain after a recent operation and who had smoked a joint just half an hour before the crash.

He now faces a Proceeds of Crime investigation aimed at seizing cash which police recovered from his car.

Wonnacott, aged 45, of Gorlin Close, Exmouth, admitted drug driving, and production and possession of cannabis and was jailed for 16 months, suspended for a year, banned from driving for a year, and ordered to do 100 hours’ unpaid community work.

Judge Phillip Wassall told him: “You were plainly producing commercial quantities in a small but very efficient cannabis farm over a five-month period.

“You were using it for self-medication but still had 455 grams in your car when you were arrested. You were involved in a collision while you were driving under the influence of cannabis and when police arrived, you threw away a bag.

“Following surgery, you were using cannabis for medicinal reasons for pain relief rather than commercial gain.”

Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said Wonnacott was driving too fast and erratically on the B3180 near Ottery when he crashed into a Mini and a van, when he misjudged an overtaking manoeuvre.

Police found cash in his car and a bag of cannabis which he threw away which was worth between £2,500 and £4,500 and 15 plants and a small amount of cannabis at his home.

She said: “While being taken into custody he explained he was a long term user of cannabis and had been smoking it 30 minutes before the accident.”

Mr James Calderbank, defending, said Wonnacott had no intention of selling the drug and was using it to treat his pain. He had been growing for five months but was using so much cannabis that the 455 grams found in the car would only have lasted for 21 days.

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