ALAN Blythe was at his wits' end as he watched his wife become progressively sicker as multiple sclerosis tightened its grip on her crumbling health.
Judith was only in her early 40s when the disease began to take its merciless toll.
Fortunately, Alan, now 60, found an answer to some of the symptoms suffered by Judith.
Unfortunately for the Runcorn couple, that answer was cannabis and its illegal cultivation and use set Alan on a journey which has seen him arrested four times and left facing a jail sentence before being dramatically acquitted by a Crown Court jury.
However, the taxi driver from Badgers Close, Palacefields, believes the risk is worthwhile if it means 57-year-old Judith is spared some of the terrible side effects of her illness.
The symptoms experienced by MS sufferers can include abnormal sensations such as tingling, itching, burning, numbness and pain.
They can also suffer fatigue, impaired vision and poor balance and co-ordination. Depression and mood swings as well as muscle weakness are also possible.
The most distressing symptom for Judith were feelings of dizziness and disorientation. The attacks left her feeling low for weeks on end and nothing seemed to alleviate them.
That is, until she smoked cannabis for the first time. It was a revelation and in the 13 years following, she has not suffered an attack.
But as Judith's circumstances improved, Alan's worsened.
He soon tired of buying the drug from local dealers, disliking the criminal, clandestine nature of the transactions but most of all the fact that the cannabis was often poor quality hashish, cut with chemicals and foul to smoke.
'I didn't like having anything to do with the black market,' he said. 'You don't know what sort of person you are dealing with and Judith didn't like me having to go out and buy the drug like that. It seemed a seedy way of doing things.'
Alan's dilemma was clear. He needed a regular supply of the drug to keep Judith healthy and the only way to do that was to grow his own crop of cannabis.
'It seemed the sensible thing to do,' explained Alan. 'But at first I didn't have a clue and didn't really know what I was doing.
'I was never any good in the garden and my first efforts were a disaster.'
True, the first crop was riddled with spiders and parasites. The leaves were small, limp, discoloured and ill-formed. However, the few marijuana joints they supplied continued to give Judith blessed relief from the symptoms and Alan continued to read up on the subject and was ready to plant his next crop in the spare room.
However, that was when, in 1993, the police first hammered on the front door.
Alan said: 'Because I was working with the plants a lot, I had got used to the smell - I didn't realise how strong it was.
'The first thing anyone noticed when we opened the front door was a strong smell of cannabis.
'Anyone could have reported us to the police and the first I knew that anything was wrong was when they knocked on the door one morning and arrested me.
'They took away my plants, but to be honest, most of them were on their last legs anyway.'
After that, Alan decided to be more careful. However, nature had dealt him a tough hand. As a diagnosed sufferer of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), he found that keeping secrets was not his strongest suit.
He said: 'As a taxi driver, I chat to people all the time and sometimes the subject would come round to drugs and cannabis and I might have said more than I should have.
'The problem is, that as I read more and more about cannabis, I came to believe that it should be legalised and had been unfairly treated over the years.
'I am a non-drinker, I never touch the stuff, so I believe that it is unfair that cannabis has been so demonised when alcohol has caused so many problems for society.'
Alan's life was turned upside down in 1997 when another police raid and another seizure left him contemplating the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence.
He was charged with cultivating cannabis with intent to supply his wife with the drug.
Before the trial in 1998, Alan told the Weekly News that he was prepared to go to prison rather than see his wife suffer more of the agony which made her suicidal.
Appearing at Warrington Crown Court, he used the rare defence of 'duress of circumstances' claiming that he had been forced to grow cannabis for Judith because without the drug she would kill herself.
The jury ignored the judge's suggestion that Mr Blythe had failed to prove duress of circumstances and cleared him by a majority and he was fined £100 for the lesser charge of possession.
Afterwards, he said: 'I am so relieved, I do not think the prosecution should have been brought. The defence said it was going to be a waste of tax payers' money and it was.'
After the case, life continued for the couple. Alan continued to grow cannabis, under special lights in the spare room and Judith continued to smoke the drug every day, successfully keeping the dizziness and other symptoms away.
However, a fortnight ago, that peace was shattered when six police officers arrived on the couple's doorstep brandishing a search warrant.
Now Alan must wait until the end of this month to find out whether his court ordeal is to be repeated.
He said: 'I think it is ridiculous that I can be arrested for doing something out of love to help my wife.
'I feel we are being harassed and I wish they would just leave us alone to get on with our lives.
'Whatever happens, I will carry on growing cannabis because it helps Judith and that is far more important than the law.'
Since his arrest, messages of support for Alan and Judith have flooded in to the Weekly News.
The Rev Paul Farnhill, of Manchester, said: 'The Government must realise that, no matter what the opinion of the gutter tabloids, laws and threats of prison will not stop medical users of cannabis from growing it when it is the only medication that gives them an acceptable standard of life.'
Lezley Gibson, of Alston, added: 'Yet again the police disgust me, have they nothing better to do than torture ill people.
'I too suffer from MS, my only medicine is cannabis and I too await a Crown Court prosecution for wanting to be well.
'Surely there are enough really bad criminals that the police could occupy their time with or are we just an easy target?'