A 16-year-old caught driving another young man around as they sold heroin and crack cocaine in Stratford has become the first dealer a judge says he has not jailed.
The teenager was appearing in the dock at Warwick Crown Court where he and the other young man both pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply them.
The court heard that when the police stopped a car being driven by the boy, then just 15, his passenger Billy Inglis got out and discarded more than 160 wraps of drugs as he fled.
Inglis (20) of Sandpits Lane, Coventry, who also admitted possessing cannabis, was jailed for three years.
But the 16-year-old, who is from Coventry but cannot be named because of his age, was given a youth rehabilitation order for two years, with intensive supervision and surveillance.
He was also ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity for 180 days and made subject to an electronically-tagged curfew from 7pm to 7am for six months.
Prosecutor Naomi Nelson-Cofie said that on May 10 last year police officers in Stratford stopped a Mazda car because of suspicious activity by the occupants.
Inglis, who was in the passenger seat, got out and ran off, throwing away a package as he did so, but was caught after a chase and arrested.
The 15-year-old driver, who admitted having no licence or insurance, remained in the car where he was seen removing a sim card from a mobile phone before he was arrested.
The officers recovered the package, which was found to have the fingerprints of both defendants in it, and inside it were 113 wraps of crack cocaine and 48 of heroin.
And at Inglis’s home, the police found scales and snap-bags, indicating he had a greater role than simply street dealing, commented Miss Nelson-Cofie.
Rizla papers at the teenager’s home were similar to those in which individual deals were wrapped – but Judge Anthony Potter observed: “One Rizla paper would look pretty much like another.”
Miss Nelson-Cofie added that after being granted bail, the 16-year-old stole a £980 Gucci rucksack its owner had left by the goalposts while playing football at the Alan Higgs centre in Coventry in May last year.
The court heard that Inglis had a conviction in 2016 for possessing cannabis, but the 16-year-old had amassed convictions for a number of offences including robbery in the past year.
Marcus Harry, for the boy, suggested that the answer to his offending lay in a difficult family background, with a father who had succumbed to the temptation of class A drugs, and he went along with Inglis ‘with little thought for the consequences.’
Judge Potter responded: “People with instability at home don’t all go out on a spree of offending involving the selling of class A drugs – but here he was on the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon dealing in misery.”
Martin Groves, for Inglis, said that after he had split up with the mother of his child, he had become involved with people who tried to get him involved in drug dealing.
He refused, but when he was then blamed for some items and cash going missing, it was made plain he had to sell drugs to pay back the £2,500 value of the loss.
Jailing Inglis, Judge Potter told him: “It is obvious from the evidence you had been preparing the 161 deals prior to leaving for Stratford-upon-Avon, where you were going to deal highly addictive drugs to others.”
After remanding him in custody over lunch, he told the 16-year-old: “I’ve been sentencing people like you for ten years.
“I have sentenced a number of people for dealing heroin and a number of people for dealing crack cocaine, and a number for dealing both drugs at the same time.
“In that ten years I have never not sent someone to prison for it, because they don’t just wreck the lives of users, they wreck the lives of the people around them.
“But I have read a little about you, and I am going to take an exceptional course. For the first time in my life, I am not going to send someone who deals in class A drugs to prison.
“You are very much at a crossroads. If you are foolish and do not comply with the order, I will send you to prison.”