Drug user pleads for tougher sentence to help him beat the habit

A cannabis plant.
A cannabis plant.

A prolific offender who landed himself in court on a drugs charge pleaded with magistrates for a stiffer sentence – to help him to kick his habit.

Grant Hunter was found in possession of cannabis with a value of less than £1 after being searched by police in South Tyneside.

But his defence solicitor took the unusual step to ‘talk up’ his crime in a bid to secure him an electronically tagged curfew to keep him indoors – and away from ‘unsavoury’ influences.

The 38-year-old – who the court heard has a history of drug issues and has 140 previous criminal offences – pleaded guilty to being in possession of a Class B drug when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates agreed to the curfew request in a bid to keep him locked away from trouble.

Lee Poppet, prosecuting, said; “On September 5, he was arrested by police on an unrelated matter and taken to South Shields police station.

“A search was carried out and he was found in possession of a small amount of cannabis.

“He was entirely compliant and said the cannabis was for his own use and was worth about 50p.”

Elizabeth Dunbar, defending, said a fine or conditional discharge would not be enough to divert him from a life of crime.

She said: “Rather unusually, I am going to talk up the offence as he needs an added deterrent to stop him mixing with the type of people who supply him with drugs.

“He has had very significant drug problems in the past. He has got off these and has stable accommodation, but occasionally uses cannabis.

“I would ask you to consider whether a fine or discharge would be appropriate for someone with previous drug convictions.

“He is obviously involved with people in the evenings who are prepared to supply him with drugs. I would invite you to impose a curfew, which would keep him indoors during these hours. It would stop him from socialising with people he shouldn’t be socialising with.”

John Lee, chairman of the magistrates, said: “Your record is not particularly good and you do need help and do have a drug problem.

“The curfew will help keep you away from unsavoury characters you associate with.”

Hunter, of Saint Stephens Way, North Tyneside, was slapped with a three-month curfew, from the hours of 7pm until 7am each day.

He must also pay a criminal courts charge of £180 and a £60 victim surcharge.