Judge gets box of Cadbury’s Heroes as ‘thank you’ from couple who ran cannabis farm…minutes after he let them walk free
- Dale Anderson, 25, and Emma Oliver, 22, were in court on drugs charges
- Police found plants while investigating tragic death of couple’s baby
- Daisy drowned in bath but parents were cleared of neglect in previous trial
- They presented Judge Robert Atherton with chocolates at end of case
- Judge, who’s retiring next year, told barristers ‘I suppose you all want one’
Dale Anderson, 25, (pictured right) and Emma Oliver, 22, (left) outside Manchester Crown Court – they gave the judge in their case a box of chocolates when their case finished
A judge was given a box of chocolates as a ‘thank you’ present from a couple facing drugs charges moments after he let them walk free.
Judge Robert Atherton was given the box of sweets by Dale Anderson, 25, and Emma Oliver, 22, as they left the dock at Manchester Crown Court.
The 67-year old judge, who is believed to be retiring next year, then thanked the couple, from Moston, Manchester, for their gift and took the chocolates back to his chambers.
The gift was a thank you for the way he had dealt with them given their previous experience.
He joked to barristers as he left: ‘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 giving another box of Cadbury’s Heroes to her defence barrister.
Anderson and Oliver had been facing possible jail terms after a cannabis farm was found in a back room at their home.
Police discovered 12 cannabis plants, 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 bath in a tragic accident.
At a previous case at Manchester Crown Court the couple were defendants in a child neglect trial over the death of Daisy, but were acquitted.
After the not guilty verdict was given by the jury it emerged Anderson admitted producing cannabis and Oliver pleaded guilty to allowing premises to be used to grow cannabis.
At the sentencing yesterday 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 – it was clearly a financial enterprise.
Judge Robert Atherton (pictured) thanked the couple for giving him a box of chocolates
‘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 it is my view that you were rightfully acquitted.
‘I think the sooner this matter is out of your lives, the better.
Baby Daisy (pictured) was taken to North Manchester Children’s Hospital but was pronounced dead
‘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 after Daisy got into difficulties in a baby bath whilst Anderson went downstairs to find a clean towel and nappies and Oliver was talking about schools with a neighbour.
When he returned Anderson found the infant lying face down in the water.
Daisy was taken to North Manchester Children’s Hospital where doctors tried to revive her but she 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 seen hoovering and tidying the house before police arrived 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.
Anderson and Oliver both denied child neglect.
In her statement to police Oliver 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 an ambulance.’
When speaking about the 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. ‘
Manchester Crown Court (pictured) where Judge Robert Atherton was given the box of sweets by defendants
During the trial and 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.