Cannabis dealer Mark Burden had 'religious calling'
Mark Burden outside court
with friends (left) Julie Graham and (right) Deborah Atkinson who
were due to be called to give evidence
An "evangelical" cannabis dealer
claimed he was selling the drug to raise funds - so he could
offer them free for people with medical conditions.
Mark Burden, of Union Road, Margate, believes he has a
"religious" calling as a supplier of cannabis to the needy.
The 49-year-old also alleged he is a relative of noted scientist
Sir Isaac Newton and dabbles in signs and symbols.
But a senior probation officer claimed Burden's religious
fervour was "just a smoke screen" for him to supply drugs and
a judge agreed and sent him to prison for 17 months.
Jim Harvey, prosecuting, told Canterbury Crown Court police had
gone to a block of flats in Edgar Road where Burden was
He said: "He appeared flustered and dropped an item onto the
floor - which officers realised was cannabis. He was searched
and in a shoebox he was carrying were 50 small bags of the
"When he was interviewed he said he gave it free of charge to
individuals that were suffering from chronic illnesses and pain and
believed the drug brought them some help."
Burden, who admitted supplying cannabis, later claimed he and
friends would raise the cash to buy large amounts of cannabis at a
Mark Burden was sentenced
at Canterbury Crown Court
He had earlier arrived at court with two friends Julie Graham
and Deborah Atkinson, planning to call them to give evidence about
the benefits of taking cannabis.
Instead, his barrister Philip Rowley handed in a voluminous
document - which Burden claimed was a book he had written
The book discusses St Mark's gospel, the Knights Templar and Sir
Isaac Newton and expressed his views about the end of the
Before the hearing, Burden claimed: "I asked for the book to be
given to the judge because God told me to write it."
Mr Rowley said: "He has now turned his back on the world of
class A drugs and recognises that it has had a significant effect
on him and those around him.
"At the time it was his genuine - albeit the court may form
the view misguided - belief that cannabis has a beneficial on
the defendant and a number of friends.
"It is also his genuine belief that he was motivated by a
religious calling and it was not a cold commercial decision to sell
But an experienced probation officer concluded Burden held
"extreme views about the end of the world" and believes in "symbols
and signs"; adding: "He appears to be on some type of mission to
save those around him."
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