drove a soldier to hack his best friend's father to
death with a pair of garden shears, a court heard
killed friend's dad while having 'cannabis-induced
delusions 'Laurie Draper, 31, wept as he blamed puffs
on just a couple of pipes of the drug for the sudden
outburst of frenzied violence which killed popular
teacher Paul Butterworth, 53.
The lance corporal, who had served in Iraq, admitted
manslaughter, and also admitted assaulting his friend,
Mr. Butterworth's son Ashley, 33.
shaven-headed Draper's plea of not guilty to murder
after medical tests found he was suffering from
'cannabis-induced delusions' and hypomania.
Hypomania is a
condition which involves hyperactivity and a grandiose
sense of power.
The case will reignite
the controversy over the Government's 2004 decision to
downgrade cannabis to a class C drug - with users now
facing simply a warning instead of arrest and possible
Critics argue there is
mounting evidence that cannabis is not only a
'gateway' drug to harder substances such as heroin,
but also that it poses a serious danger to mental
health in itself. Scientists say it is a common factor
in sparking schizophrenia.
Draper, who lived in
army barracks in Colchester, Essex, attacked Paul
Butterworth with a pair of long-handled shears in the
back garden of the teacher's home in Hoddesdon,
Hertfordshire, in March, St Albans Crown Court was
He had not used
cannabis for years - but on that night, after smoking
only two pipes of the drug, he suddenly went wild.
A source close to the
case said: 'Draper had been displaying bizarre
behaviour for a couple of months - but clearly
cannabis tipped the scales and he went completely
beserk on this occasion. It was a cannabis-induced
'He had not seen his
best friend Ashley for two years, and at first it was
a perfectly nice friendly evening. But suddenly, after
smoking the cannabis, he just flipped for no apparent
'He thought he was on
fire, the house was on fire, and that Paul and Ashley
were trying to attack him. He went into the kitchen
and doused it with water, then stripped his clothes
off - and attacked Paul.
'He absolutely hacked
him to death with this pair of long-handled shears,
tree croppers, hitting him about 50 times in the head
'Ashley tried to save
his father, but then he fled because he was convinced
he was going to be killed as well. He was probably
Neighbour Linda Howard
said: 'I saw the arrested man being led away in
handcuffs, he was completely naked. There were two
officers restraining him.
'Ashley had cradled his
dad in his arms and tried to save him but he stood no
Prosecutor Ann Evans,
told the court: 'There's no suggestion that even
shortly before the act there was any ill-feeling
between the parties at all.
'This seems absolutely
That was why, she said,
the Crown considered the charge of murder
defending, said the defendant was 'of hitherto good
character', and would be calling his army officers to
speak in mitigation for his crimes.
Draper, whose family
had a history of mental illness, served in the Royal
Logistic Corps, attached to the 13th Air Assault
Brigade, and based in Colchester.
He had completed
six-months in Iraq in 2003 and was in the process of
leaving the army when cannabis made him kill.
Former army colleague
Matthew Holmes said: 'He was a brilliant soldier who
loved the Army.'
Mr Butterworth was a
canoeist and animal-lover who kept owls and lizards.
He had separated from his wife Lesley two years ago.
Their son Ashley became
friends with Draper when the two boys were growing up
together in Leicester.
Gentle craft and design
teacher Mr Butterworth had worked for 18 years at
Sheredes comprehensive in Hoddesdon, regularly taking
his pupils on trips to Colchester zoo.
Head teacher Rob Robson
said after his death: 'Many parents have contacted us
to say how much Paul, with his friendly and caring
nature, meant to their children.'
Draper will be
sentenced at the end of next month - and Judge Michael
Baker warned yesterday it was 'obviously inevitable'
he would be jailed.
The number of cannabis
smokers in Britain is believed to have soared by 20
per cent to 3.5m since Labour came to power.
And recently published
figures showed that hospital admissions for mental
illness linked to cannabis leapt from 490 in 2001 to
710 last year, after the drug had been downgraded in