Blackpool hotel guest spared prison by Preston Crown Court judge after cocaine bust

The troubled 24-year-old was handed a second suspended sentence, with the judge warning, “this is your last chance.”
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A drug user who was shopped to police for trying to offer cocaine to a hotel boss in Blackpool was spared jail and told by a judge: “This is your last chance.”

Keelan Yates was given a six months prison sentence suspended for 18 months after Preston Crown Court heard that, despite already being on a suspended sentence, he had been working hard to get his life back on track with treatment for alcohol and drug problems.

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Yates pleaded guilty to possessing five small bags of cocaine for his own personal use when he was searched by police after leaving the Jesmond Hotel in Charnley Road.

Jesmond Hotel, Charnley Road, BlackpoolJesmond Hotel, Charnley Road, Blackpool
Jesmond Hotel, Charnley Road, Blackpool

Recorder John Jones KC heard a boss at the hotel had alerted officers after the 24-year-old offered to give him some of the drug one night in November last year.

The hotelier had evicted him from the premises and then pointed Yates out to a police officer in the street. The officer searched him and found five small bags containing white powder which was later confirmed to be cocaine.

The court was told Yates, of Valletts Lane, Bolton, was visiting Blackpool in October - just a month after being given a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years by a judge at Bolton Crown Court.

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As part of that original sentence he was ordered to undergo a 12-month alcohol treatment programme and 40 rehabilitation activity days.

Defence counsel Harriet Lavin said that Yates had suddenly become involved in criminal behaviour in 2023 due to alcohol and drug misuse.

But he now had a job and was making “really good progress” with his drink and drug problems. He had a place in a detox unit in Preston and had reduced his alcohol consumption, but had been having “mixed results” with tackling his drug use.

She told Recorder Jones: “I would submit that it would be unjust (to activate the suspended sentence) because he is someone who has got a job and is now living again with his parents who say he is making very good progress. So in those circumstances I would ask your honour to step back (from activating it).”

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The judge told Yates: “When the sentence (in October) was passed I have no doubt that whichever judge imposed it they would have said in the clearest of terms that if it was broken then you would go to prison.

“Notwithstanding that warning, given in such clear terms, within a month you found yourself in a hotel in Blackpool attempting to either give or supply (drugs) in some way.”

He said that since then it had been argued Yates had “attempted to turn your life around by moving away from the drug-using fraternity.”

The judge added that Miss Lavin had urged him not to activate the suspended sentence because of the progress he had made.

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“There is a presumption it will be activated, but in this case I have come to the conclusion it may be unjust to extend it or activate it.

“I have taken an exceptional course giving you what is effectively a final chance.”

The original suspended sentence was imposed in October by Judge Martin Walsh after Yates pleaded guilty to criminal damage, threatening behaviour and dangerous driving.

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That day the court heard Yates, described as a “violent and obnoxious drunk”, had flown into a rage after a woman overtook his car because he was driving very slowly. He had kicked her vehicle, threatened her and rammed the car causing a whiplash injury and £4,000 worth of damage.

The judge was urged by a defence barrister to “take a chance on him” and not send Yates to jail. Judge Walsh said he was “just about persuaded” to give him a chance and suspend the sentence instead.