Police raced to a teacher’s home following reports of a break-in – and discovered cannabis plants and lights in a bathroom.
Shona Gray, a primary teacher from Aberdeenshire, told officers the plants were hers and accepted a caution.
But Ms Gray told a different story when the drugs bust landed her in front of Scotland’s teaching watchdog this week. She gave evidence to the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) that she had lied to police about the drugs to protect her son.
Ms Gray told the public hearing in Edinburgh that a friend of her son had been staying at her home in Stonehaven, and suggested that the plants belonged to him.
Although Ms Gray denied all knowledge of the drugs, a police officer gave evidence that the smell of cannabis was immediately evident in the hall of Ms Gray’s home in Stonehaven.
And the officer said Ms Gray told him she had been “experimenting” with growing cannabis at her home to avoid using local drug dealers.
Ms Gray, who works as a support for learning teacher at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven, as well as at two local primary schools, faces a single charge in front of the GTCS.
It states: “On or around 11 March 2013, you did produce cannabis, a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: (i) within your home; (ii) for your own personal use”.
PC Paul Wilson Murphy told the hearing that the report of a break-in, which turned out to be false, was made by Adam Milne, a friend of Ms Gray’s son, Sam, who was living at the home at the time.
The officer, who was one of those who responded to the reported break-in, said: “In the corner of the bath where the shower should be were three cannabis plants…and lights to help them grow”.
PC Murphy said: “You could not live at the house without knowing cannabis was being grown. You could smell the odour from the hallway area.”
PC Murphy said Ms Gray told him the drugs “belonged to her for her own personal use”. The teacher told him she was growing it “as an experiment to prevent her from going to local dealers”.
PC Murphy said that books on how to grow cannabis were found at the property.
But Ms Gray told the GTCS panel: “I was trying to protect my son. He’s my number one priority. I haven’t smoked cannabis since I was 21.
Asked if she was cultivating cannabis in her house, she said: “I deny that absolutely.”
Ms Gray said that after Adam moved in to the house: “There was a conversation early on about drugs. I found a rolled up train ticket. Sam had told me Adam had drugs.”
The teacher’s lawyer at the hearing, Graeme Murray, asked her whether she could smell the cannabis, to which she replied: “I have a very poor sense of smell.”
Asked if she had recently been in the bathroom where the cannabis was being grown, she replied: “No. That bathroom didn’t work. Adam was made very clear of that when he moved in.”
Case Presenter Gary Burton then told the disciplinary panel that Ms Gray’s lie to the police could be considered serious enough for the GTCS to take action.
He said: “The view could be taken that, that could be a breach of code.”
But at this stage, the chairman of the panel, John Kilpatrick, decided to halt proceedings and moved the hearing into private. The case was then adjourned to an as yet unspecified date.
Speaking from his home in Stonehaven yesterday (Wed), Adam Milne corroborated Ms Gray’s evidence to the GTCS.
He said: “This was absolutely nothing to do with her.
“I don’t know if she even knew there was cannabis growing in the house.
“If she needs someone to stand up and say she wasn’t involved I’ll do that.”
Mr Milne said he had been convicted of growing cannabis and had been given a fine and community service to complete.
Ms Gray and her son, Sam, who was also at the hearing declined to comment. Aberdeenshire Council said they would not comment while the case was ongoing.