Two teenagers were running a skunk cannabis supply business from a caravan in Pendle, a court was told.
Burnley Crown Court heard how the duo, both addicts, were caught dealing after police turned up and found drugs with a street value of more than £3,200.
Matthew Sampson, who has a criminal record and was involved in the operation with a younger youth, repeatedly told officers as they searched the premises: “That’s it for me. I’m going down now.”
The hearing was told police discovered drugs-related text messages on mobile phones belonging to both defendants from at least 11 different people between last February 17th and March 4th.
Sampson is said to suffer paranoia because of his drugs use. He and his 17-year-old accomplice, who was 16 at the time, and cannot be named for legal reasons, both admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply last March 4th. Sampson (18), of Leeds Road, Nelson, had five offences on his record. The 17-year-old, also from Nelson, had no previous convictions.
Judge Christopher Cornwall said he had been planning to send Sampson straight to custody and was sparing him with “very considerable reservations” as custody should be the sentence. He told the defendant the only thing that had made him draw back and think twice was the fact “there wasn’t all that much to put between” Sampson and the younger defendant. The judge told the 17-year-old: “A combination of the fact you were 16 at the time and are of previous good character really makes it quite difficult to send you to detention.That might be the attitude of the court. Ordinary, decent people take the view you should just go down.”
Sampson was given eight months in detention, suspended for a year, with 12 months’ supervision and 100 hours unpaid work. The 17-year-old received a youth rehabilitation order, with 12 months’ supervision and 100 hours unpaid work.
Miss Sarah Statham (prosecuting) said Sampson owned up on the basis he was a heavy cannabis user and had sold to others. The 17-year-old would say he assisted his co-defendant to supply some cannabis, he was a heavy user at the time and it was to fund his own habit.
The prosecutor said police went to the caravan after information and it smelled strongly of cannabis. They found two bags of cannabis on a worktop, more drugs in a safe and they also discovered two air rifles and three cannabis grinders. Sampson had £160 rolled up in a cigarette packet.
Miss Statham said the police recovered a total of 323 grams of cannabis, worth £3,230 on the streets. The defendants’ telephones were both checked. Some of the contacts were asking for ounce deals of cannabis, some wanted half an ounce and some were requesting “lay-ons.”
The prosecutor said the pair were arrested and interviewed. The 17-year-old provided a prepared statement, claiming the cannabis was for his own use and he was not involved in supply. Sampson said the cannabis found was for himself and friends.
Sentencing, Judge Cornwall described the case as “extremely worrying.” He continued: “The idea of a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old running a cannabis supply business from a caravan causes all manner of anxiety.”
The judge said Sampson’s parents had decided he could not live under the same roof as them. He asked the defendant: “How much longer are you going to wreck your life? Because that’s precisely what you are doing and it’s precisely what you are going to continue to do unless you stop using this drug.”