Dealt drugs at 74 to save son from tropics

Mauritius where accused's son is imprisoned
Mauritius where accused's son is imprisoned

A Carluke pensioner whose son is being held in a Mauritius prison on drug smuggling charges sold cannabis to pay for his legal fees.

Max Wenden, 74, is now behind bars himself after being jailed for ten months.

A court heard he moved into his son’s farm where dozens of cannabis plants were being grown.

John Wenden was arrested in Mauritius in 2016 for allegedly trying to smuggle cannabis worth £39,000 on to the tropical island.

Police uncovered the cultivation at Treesbank Farm in Harthill, Lanarkshire, after a fire at the property in January last year. Cannabis plants were found in a garage and a greenhouse together with sophisticated lighting and heating systems.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard that police estimated the 82 plants recovered were worth £32,000. Max Wenden admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

He told police that he received money from those behind the cultivation and used it to pay bills and buy food for his son’s 20 South African pedigree dogs that were kept on the farm. However, Wenden admitted to social workers that he sold £200 worth of cannabis a day and sent the cash to his son in Mauritius.

Solicitor David Kinloch said John Wenden lived on the farm before his arrest and was “well known to the authorities for being involved in the cultivation of cannabis”.

After his son’s arrest, Max Wenden, of Dyke Cottage, Stonedyke Road, Carluke, moved on to the farm.

Mr Kinloch told the court: “He had to assume financial responsibility for John’s wife, children and property. There were a number of court hearings in Mauritius and the Wenden family hoped John would be released, but for whatever reason that hasn’t transpired and there are further hearings to come.

“My client ran out of money and fell foul of the misuse of drugs legislation.”

Mr Kinloch said his client has no previous convictions and urged Sheriff Thomas Millar to impose an electronic tagging order rather than send him to jail.

The lawyer added: “His prime concern was not himself but his son and his family. I would submit that a custodial sentence for a man of 74 with his health difficulties would be far more strenuous than for a younger man in good health.”

But Sheriff Millar said no other sentence than prison was appropriate, telling Wenden: “You seem to minimise the effects of drugs on others, referring only to your own family.”