THREE young men who started dealing after becoming “embroiled in the drugs, clubs and house parties” culture have all been spared jail.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Clitheroe’s 22-year-old Robert Kelly, with Dane Lyle (24) and Christopher Pawley (25), both of Oldham, were all involved in selling mephedrone – known in the drug scene as “bubble” – and Lyle and Pawley were also supplying another controlled substance, GBL. They were selling to about 15 associates, not on a commercial scale.
The trio were caught out after police were called to what was thought to be a night-time break-in attempt at Pawley’s father’s company, Lancashire Slate and Tile Ltd, on Moorfield Industrial Estate, Accrington, in December 2011.
Two vehicles matching the description given to police – who had found no signs of forced entry at the premises – were discovered parked up together in Lancaster Drive, Clayton-le-Moors, 20 minutes later.
The hearing was told Pawley, who worked at the family firm, was in the front passenger seat of one vehicle, appeared to be under the influence of drugs and had white powder on the tip of his nose.
Lyle was also in the vehicle and had a small amount of bubble in his wallet, consistent with being a user. Kelly, the driver, was also searched and the mobile phones of all three seized. Drugs paraphernalia including dropper bottles, empty snap bags and scales with a residue of white powder were also found.
All three were arrested and analysis of their phones revealed drug-related text messages. More drugs and paraphernalia were also discovered at properties connected to the defendants.
Unemployed Kelly, of Woone Lane, Clitheroe, and Lyle and Pawley, of Wimpole Street, Oldham, all admitted being concerned in the supply of mephedrone. Lyle and Pawley also admitted being concerned in the supply of GBL. Lyle and Kelly had no previous convictions while Pawley had a record for four drugs offences.
Lyle was given 24 weeks’ custody, Kelly received 17 weeks and Pawley got 34 weeks, but all the sentences were suspended for 12 months. In other words, if any of the three offends again in that 12-month period, his suspended sentence can be implemented immediately. Each defendant must also complete 100 hours’ unpaid work.
Prosecutor Mr Nicholas Courtney said eight exchanges were found on Lyle’s phone between October 8th and 16th and seven on Pawley’s phone between October 19th and November 23rd and November 19th and 26th. Kelly had three drugs-related messages. Some messages were involving bubble, some were for GBL and others were about both drugs. The defendants will not face a proceeds of crime hearing.
Defending Kelly, who formerly lived in Rossendale, Mr Philip Holden said he was a young man with promise and was looking for work. Mr Holden told the court: “These proceedings have had something of an effect upon him.”
For Lyle, Mr Paul Hodgkinson said his behaviour had been unpleasant but was isolated. The barrister added: “The reality is he is terrified.”
Representing Pawley, Mr Philip Parry said he had sought the solace and comfort of his family and, ironically, the incident had brought them closer together. The lawyer added: “He is absolutely petrified at the prospect of going to custody.”
Passing sentence, Judge Beverly Lunt told the defendants: “All three of you, I am being told, are intelligent young men, yet you are stupid enough to fall in with a crowd and they are dumb enough to think it’s cool to take illegal drugs.
“That’s bad enough, but then you three admit to dealing and that means you have now risked absolutely everything to do that. You are all three now marked on your records as drug dealers.”
The judge continued: “It was almost criminal stupidity and you plainly had no concept of how serious the offences were. You know now – of that I am entirely sure.”
Judge Lunt, who had remanded the three in custody while she retired to consider sentence, said she was suspending the jail terms as all had made significant changes in their lives. But, she warned them: “If I were you, I would remember what it felt like to go through the back door and into a cell downstairs, because that’s your future, do you understand, if you ever do this again?”