AN Accrington mother-of-two whose home was being used as a cannabis dealing den walked free from court after a judge described her case as ‘bizarre’.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Zoe Whittaker had had cannabis, scales and a dealer’s list at the property in Hopwood Street.

Whittaker, who had no previous convictions, was not a drug user, but had had catalogue debts. Police suspected she was being used and so did a judge, although the defendant had never said she was.

Whittaker, 26, sobbed in the dock as she was spared jail by Judge Beverley Lunt, who told her the circumstances were quite exceptional.

She said the defendant had previously been respectable and was a good mother other than the offence. It was very rare to find a female of good character suddenly involved in drugs.

The judge told Whittaker: “I’m not being told the whole story by you and I know I’m not, because this does not make any sense.”

“Obviously, your house was being used by drug addicts and potentially drug dealers and you have just become overwhelmed by all of this.”

She added: “This was a very bizarre period of your life. Do not let these people use you in this way again.”

She warned Whittaker: “The police will be watching you.”

The defendant, now of Ormerod Street, Accrington, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply. She was given eight months in jail, suspended for a year, with 12 months supervision.

Joseph Allman, prosecuting, said police raided the defendant's home in February and she told them they would find nothing of interest.

Officers searched and discovered two sets of scales in a kitchen cupboard and a pouch containing a number of snap bags of cannabis.

In the living room, in a cardboard container, were 31 snap bags of drugs, totalling 32 grams. A dealer's list was in a kitchen unit, with names and amounts on it. The defendant was interviewed and said she had never seen the drugs before.

Daniel King, for Whittaker, said police had had complaints from neighbours about people visiting the house who were causing concern.

The solicitor said: “This has been a very clear, loud and intense wake-up call.”