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Stratford law student caught dealing drugs outside RSC is spared jail

Drug dealer Jessica Kenny.Photo submitted
Drug dealer Jessica Kenny.Photo submitted

A LAW student’s career has been left in tatters after she was convicted of dealing drugs in the shadow of Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Jessica Kenny, 23, operated as a street-level dealer to help clear a debt and supplement her income as a prison officer at a high-security jail.

A judge told her she was lucky to escape going back there when he suspended the prison sentence he handed her last Thursday after she pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply it.

Kenny, of Wetherby Way, Stratford, had only just been stopped by police because of her driving when she pulled up outside the theatre at 11.20pm on 5th April last year and conducted an “exchange”.

Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft told Warwick Crown Court the same officers stopped her again and searched her Audi. They found four one-gram bags of cannabis worth £10 each and a wallet with “a large amount of cash in it”. At her home, they discovered scales, a cannabis grinder, hundreds of plastic “deal bags” identical to the ones in the car, and a bag containing a further 14 grams of cannabis.

Officers also seized four phones but were unable to check them for drug-dealing messages because she refused to provide the access numbers for any of them.

Kenny, who said nothing when interviewed, was a custody officer at Long Lartin high-security jail near Evesham at the time, but was reapplying to join the police, having failed on two previous occasions.

Defending, Nick Devine said: “One consequence of this is that that is something she will never do, and will also never work in the prison service again.

“For about a month she had been dealing to friends who smoked cannabis, for financial gain. She had taken on a loan she was struggling to maintain.

“This is a lady of entirely good character prior to her involvement in this. She has asked me to express her remorse for getting involved in this, and her shame. She got involved in something she shouldn’t have been involved in, and the consequences are profound. All the career paths she had tried to go down have been closed to her.”

Judge Anthony Potter heard Kenny was studying law at Birmingham University but any hope of becoming a solicitor was now also dashed. Calling her actions “astonishingly stupid”, he told her: “Despite being a perfectly intelligent woman who not only worked in the criminal justice system but harboured an ambition to become a police officer, you were going out dealing in Stratford town centre near to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

“You lost your job – as I imagine the public would hope to be the case – and your ambitions to join the police will obviously come to nothing. You are enrolled at Birmingham University studying law, with a previously held ambition to become a solicitor, and that, I am afraid, is also going to come to nothing.”

He added: “This will be the only chance you will get. If you don’t take it, I warn you, you will go to prison.”

Kenny was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work. Judge Potter also ordered her to take part in a rehabilitation activity and pay £200 costs.

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