The Swindon Advertiser reports……Stephen Lewis, 54, told magistrates on Saturday that he had begun smoking the drug after the death of his best friend a few months earlier.

Prosecutor Graham Dono said police were tipped off that the driver of a marked council van was over the drug drive limit.

He was stopped behind the wheel of the Renault Traffic van in Station Road on February 11. Blood tests later showed he had the equivalent of 5.4mcgs of cannabis derivative tetrahydrocannabinol in a litre of blood. The legal limit is 2mcgs.

Lewis, of Broadmead Walk, Nythe, admitted driving a motor vehicle while over the prescribed limit.

Representing himself at the Swindon Magistrates’ Court hearing, Lewis told JPs he began smoking cannabis after his best friend died just before Christmas 2019.

He said: “My brother got diagnosed with lung cancer and my life just got a bit out of control and I was smoking way too much. I shouldn’t have been smoking at all; I know that. From that day to this, I haven’t smoked cannabis.”

The defendant had lost his job at the council and was now trying to set up his own business cleaning windows.

Apologising for his actions, he added: “I wish I’d never done it. I wish I’d never started smoking in the first place.”

Magistrates banned him from driving for a year and ordered he pay a £120 fine and £117 in costs and surcharge.