Judge gets box of chocs as ‘thank you’ from Moston drug duo… after they walk free

A judge was given a box of Cadbury Heroes chocolates as a ‘thank you’ present by a young Moston couple facing drugs charges – just moments after he let them go free.

Judge Robert Atherton was approached at the bench and passed the box of sweets by Dale Anderson, 25, and 22-year-old Emma Oliver as they walked out of the dock.

In bizarre scenes, the 67-year-old judge who is thought to be retiring next year thanked the couple for their courtroom gift and took the chocolates back to his chambers joking to barristers: ”I suppose you all want to know if you can have one. Well, ask me again in five months and then you can.”

Afterwards Oliver was seen to give out another box of Heroes to her defence barrister.

Earlier Anderson and Oliver had been facing possible jail terms after a cannabis farm was found in a back room at their home in Moston.

Police discovered the 12 pot plants – which were enough to produce half a kilo of cannabis – while investigating the death of the couple’s nine month old daughter Daisy who drowned in the family bath in a tragic accident.

At Manchester Crown Court the couple faced a child neglect trial over the death of Daisy but both were acquitted by the jury. After the not guilty verdicts it emerged Anderson had admitted producing cannabis and Oliver pleaded guilty to allowing premises to be used to grow cannabis.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday market trader Anderson was given a six month community order with a condition he complete 42 hours unpaid work. Oliver, a trainee plasterer was conditionally discharged for six months.

Passing sentence Judge Atherton told them: ”There were 12 plants and it is likely you have produced around half a kilo which could have been sold and it was clearly a financial enterprise.

“But this is an exceptional case in terms of what brought the police to your home. You know those circumstances only too well. I have expressed my views about the trauma you have gone through in dealing with that situation. I have never been slow to express my view on those matters and my view that you were rightfully acquitted.

“I think the sooner this matter is out of your lives the better. Cannabis needs to be out of your lives. Caring for each other is the essence of your future.”

The investigation into the couple began in September 2012 when Daisy, who was born on Christmas Day and described as a ‘little Princess’ – got into difficulties in a ‘baby bath’ while Anderson was searching for clean towels and nappies and Oliver was chatting about schools with a neighbour.

Soon afterwards Anderson found the infant lying face down in the water and lay her on a bed of teddy bears before he tried frantically to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 

Daisy was later taken to North Manchester Children’s Hospital where doctors tried desperately to revive her but she had already gone into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead two hours later.

Police began investigating Oliver and Anderson for child neglect after officers claimed they kept a ‘dirty and unhygienic house’ with dirty clothes and toys strewn across the floor. Neighbours were spotted hoovering and tidying mess before police arrived and while the couple were still at the hospital.

Officers quickly halted the clean-up operation and noted the house had dirty nappies lying around, food on a high chair, dirty dishes covered in congealed food, damp clothing on the floor and dirty bed clothes on the cot.

It emerged when Anderson realised there were no clean towels or nappies in the bathroom so he left and began searching through the downstairs of the terraced house for what he needed.  The couple crossed each other on the stairs leaving their daughter unattended for a few seconds. He went back to the bathroom she was lying face down in the water.

Anderson and Oliver both denied child neglect. In her statement to police Emma said: “Dale normally does bath time. I do the dry.

“I ran the bath. Dale came up and I have come down. Then Dale ran down the stairs  white as a ghost saying there is something wrong with Daisy.

“I put her on the floor on a Minnie Mouse towel and then started to give her mouth to mouth. Dale did CPR and a number of neighbours came over to try and help and call and ambulance.”

Telling of the doomed attempts by doctors in hospital to save Daisy, Oliver added: ” She came back to life for 26 minutes. I do not understand how one minute she was breathing and the next she was not. I went to the toilet and when I came back her heart had stopped beating and she was pronounced dead.”

During the trial in the absence of the jury, Judge Atherton questioned why the couple had been charged with child neglect as the baby had been left for a ‘matter of seconds’. He agreed with defence assertions that the unhygienic and messy house was a ‘‘snapshot’ after a tragic event.

The grammar school educated judge who was appointed in 2000 and lists his recreations as travel, music and gardening had previously attracted controversy over his tough sentencing stance on looters arrested during the 2011 riots.

In 2008 he triggered outrage when he freed a paedophile who molested an 11-year-old girl amid claims the victim had ‘welcomed’ his advances. In 2013 he chaired the mental health tribunal which ordered Moors murderer Ian Brady to remain at Ashworth maximum security hospital.

Story via Cavendish Press.

Main image courtesy of Mikey, inset courtesy of Cadbury via YouTube, with thanks.

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