THE landlady of a Darwen pub could be stripped of her licence after police allege they found cannabis plants in the living quarters. Debra Nichol, 39, who runs The Office, in Holden Fold, said she was “fighting for her life” ahead of a meeting of Blackburn with Darwen Council licensing committee today.
The police have asked for the meeting after alleging 12 cannabis plants and cultivation equipment were found in the living quarters of the pub during a raid in October.
Both Miss Nichol and her partner Matthew Wilson were arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and firearm offences, after police also found a rifle.
The firearm charge was later dropped after it was found to be a souvenir.
Both have appeared at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court, but have not entered pleas.
In documents, officers said they wanted to see Miss Nichol removed from the pub and banned from the building for as long as it has a licence.
They also want the pub’s licence to be suspended for three months, even though the court case is still continuing.
Miss Nichol said the licensing hearing followed a very difficult year.
She said: “Last year things went very badly for me.
“My mum needed a triple heart bypass and I took this very badly, and went through a rough time and ended up on anti-depressants.
“While this was going on, I was assaulted by an ex-partner and had to have a metal plate put in my face and I also lost three teeth.
“It’s taken me a lot to get over this, and I’m still getting help.”
Before Miss Nichol took over The Office last March, it was run for eight years by Miss Nichol’s parents Barry and Lynne Leigh, who still own the pub.
During that time they held several charity events, raising money for children cancer sufferers at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, buying them games and televisions.
They are currently trying to raise £1,000 towards the cost of training a guide dog.
Miss Nichol said: “We have done a lot for this community, and for the pub to close would be a real shame.
“As for me, if I were to lose the pub, not only would it be my job, but my home as well.
“I’m fighting for my life.”
In May last year, Miss Nichol was knocked unconscious in a ‘grave attack’ by her ex-partner Terence Atkinson at the pub.
She needed surgery to insert a metal plate into a fractured cheekbone and also suffered three broken teeth.
By Catherine Pye