Drug dealer spared jail

By Crown Court Reporter in Local People

A CANNABIS user from Teignmouth who turned to small-scale dealing to pay the rent after losing his job has been spared a jail sentence.

John Gardener started using the drug on a daily basis after a short-lived marriage broke up. He paid for his habit by selling to friends when he became unemployed. He was caught with £132 worth of cannabis, electronic scales, and a small bag ready for sale when police raided his home in the resort last October. Text messages on his phone showed he had been dealing at a low level for a month before he was caught, Exeter Crown Court was told. Gardener, 23, of Salisbury Terrace, admitted supplying cannabis and possession with intent. He was jailed for six months, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community work and 35 days rehabilitation activities. Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, told him: ‘You have pleaded guilty to supplying drugs to others, albeit on a relatively low scale. ‘People who deal in drugs normally go to prison but you are not going to prison today because of your past record in which you have previous drug convictions. If you supply drugs again, you will go to custody.’ Miss Francesca Whebell, prosecuting, said Gardener’s home was searched on October 27 when 13.25 grams of cannabis worth £132, including a pre-packed bag, scales, and two phones were recovered. There were messages dating from September 25 which indicated he was dealing in cannabis. Mr Jeffrey Segan, defending, asked the Judge to follow the suggestions of a probation report which suggested Gardener would benefit from work to tackle his cannabis use. The report said he had married when he was just 20 and became depressed. The relationship broke up. He started using cannabis on a daily basis and then lost his job. He started selling to friends after he missed a Jobcentre appointment and his Job Seekers Allowance was stopped. The report said: ‘There was a three-months period when he had no income. His cannabis use increased and he struggled to pay the rent. ‘He saw what he did as a sort of a way out. He is living with his parents and looking for work and his he seems to have fallen into a rut. ‘A concern is that he is still smoking cannabis. In terms of getting his life back on track, he would benefit from rehabilitation activities.’