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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Suspended sentence for Grange drug dealer

A DRUG dealer has walked free from court despite a judge telling him a month ago that prison was “inevitable”.

At Carlisle Crown Court in December, Judge Paul Batty QC told Stuart James Airey, 22, the offences he had committed were so serious there would be no alternative but to send him to prison.

But back at the same court on Friday – in front of a different judge – Airey was given a suspended prison sentence, so he will only be locked up if he commits another offence in the next two years.

The judge, Recorder Simon Hilton, said his efforts to turn his life around in the 15 months since his arrest were so impressive a prison sentence was no longer necessary.

Airey, 22, of Ayside, Grange, had earlier pleaded guilty to supplying cannabis, a class B drug, and possessing it with intent to supply it. He had also admitted being concerned in the making of an offer to supply cocaine, a class A drug – an offence with which he was charged only after a prosecution lawyer chanced upon details of incriminating text messages which had previously been overlooked.

Prosecutor Mr Gerard Rogerson told the court Airey was arrested on October 23, 2010, after police who stopped his car at Staveley-in-Cartmel noticed it smelled strongly of cannabis.

They found £446-worth of cannabis in the car, along with plastic bags and scales which had clearly been used for drug dealing, he said.

As the case was investigated, he said, it emerged that Airey had been supplying cannabis to his friends, which had led to his looking into where he could obtain cocaine for them too.

He had actually sold cocaine only once – to a friend called “Rosie” – but had tried to do so on three other occasions, he said.

In mitigation, defence barrister Mr John Harrison said Airey – who holds an “important” position in his family’s business – had got involved because of his “strong cannabis habit”.

That led to his pooling resources with his drug-taking friends, which in turn led to his selling drugs to a few of them.

“It was not to all and sundry at large – not hundreds of people, but a smallish circle,” he said. “It was not corrupting anyone any more than they had already been corrupted.”

Mr Harrison said Airey’s offences were “a pretty low involvement in the drugs world.”

And anyway, he said, Airey had made great efforts since to give up drugs – even to the extent of paying for drugs rehabilitation himself.

“He is quite a different person now to the person who did this things over 12 months ago,” he said.

Airey was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to do 240 hours unpaid community work.

In April, he will face a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act at which he could be made to pay back any profits he has made from his crimes.

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