POLICE who raided a Kidderminster cafe found customers smoking cannabis while the proprietor served behind the counter.

They included a multiple sclerosis victim in a wheelchair who took the drug to help cope with her illness.

David Lyness, the boss of Crystals Cafe in The Horsefair, described his premises to police as "a cannabis theme park" and "a smoker's environment", said Brett Stevenson, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court.

Lyness, 43, who lived in a flat above the cafe, admitted permitting his premises to be used for cannabis smoking and possession of the drug on the day he was due to face trial by jury.

He was fined £1,100 with £300 costs after Recorder Murray Creed accepted that the defendant had been "reckless" in turning a blind eye.

A search warrant was executed at the cafe on February 19 last year. Three customers had cannabis on them. Two were cautioned by police.

The third customer was prosecuted and fined because he was present in August, 2003 when police mounted their first raid on the cafe and also found him smoking cannabis, said Mr Stevenson.

He added Lyness also sold substances in packets known as "legal high" which were spoofs of a real drug.

Police found a bag of cannabis on a coffee table in his flat and a herbal grinder which had cannabis traces on it.

In 1989 Lyness was jailed for two years for possession of drugs and had drug convictions in 1994 and 1997.

Defence counsel Alastair Edie said: "This was tantamount to turning a blind eye. He didn't know who was smoking what. He insists he runs the cafe well, is hard-working and does not allow alcohol."

Mr Edie said Kidderminster was notorious for hard drugs and Lyness was offering a refuge to people who might be tempted into taking them.

Ten years ago, Lyness broke two leg bones, which left him with a permanent limp and pain which travelled up his body.

He took drugs to alleviate the pain and had an aversion to prescribed drugs after they failed to help his cancer-stricken mother.

Lyness was "not a rich man", making only £450 a month. He rented the flat and had council tax arrears, which he was paying off.

"He's had a chequered past but in recent days has kept pretty much on the straight and narrow. He believes cannabis has therapeutic qualities and should be legalised," added Mr Edie.