Brian Williams is a 26-year-old teacher from South Wales had made a good start in life. He had a steady job and had just bought his first home when, in May of this year, eight police officers, armed with a warrant, searched his house and found cannabis plants growing in the attic. Now his life is in ruins.

News of his arrest came as a shock to Mr Williams' retired parents, who live in Swansea. "We had no idea he used cann- abis, though we saw him frequently; apparently its effects are not obvious," said Laura Williams. Brian explained to his parents that this was his first experiment in growing cannabis and that he had decided to cultivate his own to avoid drug dealers. "He had no previous convictions, a clean driving licence and was otherwise law- abiding," said Mrs Williams.

After he was arrested Brian was taken to the police station. It was night time and it was suggested that rather than wait hours for a solicitor to arrive he should make a statement then. "It was unfortunate and I am afraid that Brian was a little too trusting and somewhat naive," said Brian's father, Frank.

"The police asked him if he smoked all the cannabis he produced and he told them he gave some to a friend and that sadly was enough for the police to escalate the charges from possession to supplying," said Mr Williams.

In September the case came before Swansea magistrates. Brian pleaded guilty to both charges. The chairman of the bench said he was lucky not to go to prison, and instead ordered him to complete 240 hours' community service.

When the school term started Brian faced a school disciplinary board. "It seems that the education officers advised the school governors to dismiss him, although he was a good teacher and the headteacher was keen to keep him. My son has now lost both his job and probably his career," said Mrs Williams. "He may be prevented from working with children in a professional or voluntary capacity for the rest of his life. The exercise of his reasoned choice has cost him dearly. His criminal conviction brings with it a complete waste of all the personal and public resources that went into his training, the loss of a gifted and enthusiastic teacher, plus the financial cost of the criminal proceedings. The public purse will pay 'dole' while he seeks alternative work."

All names have been changed.