I recently represented a defendant at the Crown Court who was charged with Supplying Class A Drugs. He was facing a possible sentence of 4 ½ years imprisonment.
He was a hopeless drug addict. He attended Court with his father, who was almost in tears at his son’s quick downward spiral. He had been married, had a 15 year old son, a house and everything seemed good. He and his wife separated and before long, he hit the drugs hard.
He was a vulnerable addict and a victim of a practice known to the Police as “cuckooing”. This involves drug dealers taking control of your house and dealing drugs from there. In addition, they force you to sell drugs under pressure. The only reward is that you are supplied with your crack cocaine and heroin.
He was genuinely in fear, as the dealers had threatened not only him but also the life of his son. I advised him to plead Not Guilty on the basis of duress. Following his Not Guilty plea, his father secured him a 6 month residential rehabilitation placement in Gloucestershire, miles away from home.
The Judge kept a close eye on this case. There were frank discussions in court about the defence of duress and eventually it was agreed by all that his offending fell just short of legal duress. The Judge was however impressed with the way that he had managed to turn his life around. The Judge commented that he could see the improvement himself in only 3 months
Eventually I advised him to plead Guilty. I convinced the Judge to postpone sentence for 6 months so that he could complete his rehabilitation. The Judge agreed, going a step further and promising that he would not go to prison when he returns if he successfully completes it.
When we left Court that day, I saw him smile for the first time.
That’s why we do, what we do.