Talented youth hid drugs to pay off debt

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A talented young man who became hooked on drugs ended up acting as a “warehouseman” out of fear for his safety, a court heard.

James Johnstone, who had already suffered a beating over a debt, babysat heroin and crack cocaine, which he secretly hid at his father’s home.

Preston Crown Court heard drugs were found in a bag sticking out of an air vent, while others had been tucked into a drain outside.

A judge dealing with 20-year-old Johnstone, who got 13 GCSE’s as well as three AS levels, said his case showed the damage that drugs could do to young people.

Johnstone, of Bowland Crescent, Grange Park, pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply.

The court heard he had been £800 in debt to his dealer.

He had no way of paying the money, so he was told to help bag and also warehouse drugs.

Johnstone had feared he might come to serious harm if he did not comply.

Hanifa Patel, prosecuting, said police executed a search warrant at the father’s home on April 12 this year. Johnstone was living there at the time.

A clear bag was spotted protruding through an air vent in the upstairs hallway. The bag contained crack cocaine.

Police recovered 38.71 grams of that drug.

In a drain in the back garden, another bag was discovered, which contained 143 grams of heroin. It was estimated that the drugs had a street value of £11,020.

Johnstone told police when questioned that he was minding the drugs for someone he refused to name.

Julie Taylor, defending, said Johnstone had ended up on a downward spiral, having started experimenting with drugs at a very young age.

“He started with drugs that the public perceive as soft, but escalated to using cocaine and sadly, crack cocaine.

“Inevitably he became addicted and was spending £40 to £50 a day.”

Johnstone was given 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with eighteen months supervision and eighty hours unpaid work.

The judge, Recorder Mark Ainsworth, told him “You are a fine example of the damage drugs can do.”

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