'Shaman' jailed for using banned drug in healing potions
A British shaman and self-proclaimed voodoo priest was jailed for 15 months yesterday for using a sacred drink containing a Class A drug at a healing ceremony.
Peter Aziz (51) made two brews of Ayahuasca with the leaf of the Chakruna plant -- which contains the banned drug N-dimethyltriptamene or DMT -- which were used during the ceremony in a disused hotel.
The brew, which is used to bring on hallucinations and often makes those who drink it vomit, was given to 17 people during a candle-lit ceremony on the week-long religious retreat in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England.
Aziz, of Buckfastleigh, Devon, denied two counts of producing a Class A drug and two counts of supplying a Class A drug but a jury found him guilty of all charges after just two-and-a-half hours' deliberation on August 8 following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
At yesterday's sentencing, Judge Michael Roach said he heard that Aziz had "wholeheartedly done a lot of good for a lot of people".
"You knew it was wrong to produce this drug and you knew it was wrong to supply it. But produce and supply it you did," Judge Roach said.
"It is a Class A drug. I bear in mind that from what I have read that it seems . . . that you have served to provide assistance to others. But, that said, there is no doubt in my mind that I have to treat this matter as serious."
Aziz was arrested by police following the week-long religious event at the disused Dorville Hotel in Madeira Road, Weston-super-Mare, in December 2007, when he was filmed by a GP working for the BBC who posed as a cancer patient.
Nick Lewin, representing Aziz, said he was a "fundamentally good man" who was "determined to help other people".
Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said he welcomed the sentence.
"Following a long and protracted investigation we are pleased to have gotten a conviction."