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"He was supplying medicine while the law caught up”

Tuesday 21 June 2022

"He was supplying medicine while the law caught up”

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Two people have been sent to prison, and another handed a suspended sentence, for a variety of cannabis related offences, including cannabis supply, production and possession.

The case drew an unusually large crowd in the public gallery, as family members, friends and members of the public gathered to support the defendants, two of whom are parents to two children.

Lucia Pagliarone, 35, is the founder of the Guernsey Drug Strategy Campaign group and is a well-known advocate for cannabis legalisation. She was joined in court by two fellow defendants, her partner and co-parent Christopher Burnet, 31, and Michael Clarke, 68, who was growing and supplying the cannabis to Pagliarone and her partner. 

Pagliarone was sentenced to three years and three months for the supply of a Class B drug and a money laundering offence; Burnett was given an 18-month suspended sentence, also for being involved in the supply of a Class B drug and for possession; and Clarke was sentenced to four years in Les Nicolles, for being involved in the supply and production of a Class B drug. 

What happened? 

On 2 June 2020 Guernsey Police were called after someone reported a strong smell of cannabis on Coupee Lane. While investigating the report officers noticed a vent coming out of Clarke’s property, which he shares with his wife.  

Two officers went to the property, were let in after speaking to Clarke and shown to the basement, where he was growing cannabis plants. The room was split in two and had 141 plants in various stages of growth. 

Clarke was arrested and additional officers were brought to the property. They found more dried cannabis and more than £43,000 in cash. 

Several devices were seized and officers were led to Pagliarone and Burnet’s home. On 4 June officers searched the couple’s house and found 7.2 grams of dried cannabis and nearly £9,000 in cash. 

All three were arrested and brought in for questioning.  


Pictured: Dozens of supporters gathered outside the Royal Court before the sentencing. 

Clarke kept a comprehensive record of the yield, plant size and distribution of cannabis on an excel spreadsheet on his seized computer. 

Utilising this information, two long interviews with Clarke and an investigation into all three of the defendant’s finances, Guernsey Police pieced together a small-scale production and supply operation. 

It was determined that Clarke, over a period of time, had supplied 2.139 kilos of cannabis to Pagliarone, who then supplied a small network of her own clients. Additionally, police had seized 1.053 kilos of cannabis from Clarke’s property and they deduced that Clarke had produced and sold 11 kilos of cannabis since 2018. Clarke pleaded guilty to all charges at the earliest opportunity. 

Burnet pleaded guilty early on to possession of the small amount of cannabis found at his and Pagliarone’s home and also pleaded guilty to his involvement in supply, having admitted to assisting Paglirone’s operation between 8 February and May 2020 by weighing and packaging cannabis ready for distribution. 

Pagliarone was sentenced for transferring the proceeds of drug trafficking after moving £2,200 from her account to Burnet’s the same day as a restraint order was put on her bank accounts. 

All three pleaded guilty to being involved in the supply of a Class B drug and for their separate charges of production, money laundering and possession. 


Clarke’s Advocate, Sam Steele, made an impassioned speech on behalf of the 68-year-old. He described how Clarke had originally started growing cannabis to help his wife, who suffers from a degenerative neurological disease that means she is unable to walk. 

After exhausting traditional medicines, the couple experimented with cannabis in Amsterdam and, after it proved beneficial, Clarke decided to grow it at home. 

This, coupled with a series of financial setbacks, culminated in Clarke deciding to expand his operation to sell to others. Advocate Steele said Clarke was supplying to people who would eventually be prescribed medicinal cannabis: “He was supplying medicine while the law caught up.” 

He said Clarke wasn’t fearful of prison but fearful of leaving his wife and urged the Jurats to consider a suspended sentence. 


Pictured: The defendants were sentenced in the Royal Court. 

Much was made of Pagliarone and Burnet’s two young daughters, who ended up losing their mother to custody.  

Advocate Andrew Ayres, who represented Pagliarone, said the children would be losing a parent during the most formative years of their lives.  

He said Pagliarone was supplying cannabis to people with health conditions that ranged from cancer to insomnia and made a plea for “mercy not mitigation”. 

Burnet’s Advocate, David Domaille, said his client was most fearful of being separated from his children and had already suffered due to the delay in getting the case to the Royal Court. He said, while the delays had been inevitable, it had been “one of the longest [delays] I’ve been aware of”. 


Deputy Bailiff Jessica Roland said that while the defendants may have their own views on the legalisation of cannabis, the Royal Court was bound in its decision making and must follow guidelines. 

Clark was sentenced to two years for supply and four years for production, both to run concurrently. Pagliarone was sentenced to three years for the supply charge and three months for the money laundering offence, to run consecutively. 

Burnet was given an eighteen-month prison sentence for the supply charge and one month for possession concurrently, but they were both suspended for three years.


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