A man was using his girlfriend’s mum’s house as a base from which to sell cannabis.

When police raided Joanne Turner’s home in Easington Road, Banbury, last summer they found quarter of a kilo of the class B drug stashed in a Sainsbury’s Bag for Life. Also found inside the bag were cash notes and dealer Callum Banner’s bank card and driving licence.

Messages found on both their phones linked them to the supply of cannabis. In 21-year-old Banner’s case, the operation went back to 2019, while ‘mum-in-law’ Turner, 43, offered to put customers in touch with him when they could not get held of the dealer.

Prosecutor Peter Pride told Oxford Crown Court on Thursday that the drugs found during the raid were worth £1,300 on the wholesale market but up to £3,400 if sold in smaller street deals.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Michael Gledhill QC spared both defendants immediate prison sentences.

But in a parting shot he warned them: “You have been treated in the view of some people, when they hear about this, extremely leniently. But you mark my words: you have escaped prison by the skin of your teeth.”

Banner, of Edinburgh Way, Banbury, admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession with intent to supply the class B drug. Turner, of Easington Road, Banbury, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class B drug. Neither had previous convictions.

Bicester Advertiser: The bag for life in which the drugs were found Picture: TVPThe bag for life in which the drugs were found Picture: TVP

Peter du Feu, mitigating for Banner, said his client turned to selling cannabis after becoming addicted to the drug. “It all became rather too easy,” the barrister said.

In the year since his arrest, he had turned his life around. He moved back in with his own parents and had become a first-time father.

In a character reference, Banner’s partner described him as ‘truly amazing to me and our daughter’. His parents said he was a ‘doting dad’.

Co-defendant Turner was unrepresented at Thursday’s hearing, as her barrister was taking part in the Criminal Bar Association’s nationwide walkout in protest over Legal Aid rates.

Tearful Turner, who asked to be sentenced in her lawyer’s absence, told the judge: “I’m just very sorry.”

Sentencing Banner to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Gledhill said: “The message must go out from this court that if people like you choose to deal in cannabis that a prison sentence follows, but there is enough mitigation to suspend your sentence.”

He told Turner, who received three months suspended for a year: “What on earth is a 43-year-old woman doing allowing a young man who goes out with you daughter to deal drugs from your house?”

The defendants must each complete 20 probation sessions and pay £225 costs to the prosecution service. Banner must also do 150 hours of unpaid work.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward