South Shields delivery driver caught after buying diazepam and selling to friends

A South Tyneside delivery driver found guilty of buying and selling an illegal anti-anxiety drug.

Derek Hope, 43, purchased around 250 diazepam tablets online in a bid to overcome his own virus-related depression. But Hope, of Bradley Avenue, Marsden, also sold on some to friends, borough magistrates heard.

He began dealing to them, unaware the drug was legally prohibited – and did so for minimum financial benefit. The tablets were found when police raided his then business premises in Frederick Street, Laygate, South Shields, on Saturday, September 12, 2020.

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Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “It’s a very simple matter. The police executed a warrant over two years ago. They attend a company in Frederick Street. He was the person operating this company.

The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

“They found a box with some tablets, which were diazepam. His house was searched, and messages were found on a phone. He said the tablets were bought online and that he knew what they were but didn’t know they were a controlled substance.

“There was a second police interview in which he made no reply. He’s got one relevant conviction. This was a one-man operation. It’s effectively selling directly to end users, it’s street dealing. He has previously been concerned in the supply of class A drugs, but that was 16 years ago.”

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Hope pleaded guilty to a charge of being concerned in the making of an offer to supply class C drugs to persons unknown.

David Forrester, defending, said: “This happened during lockdown when this gentleman’s mental health had deteriorated. Diazepam is better known as Valium. He started to take it to help with his depression and mental health, and got involved a bit too much.

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“He got more than he needed and passed some on to friends. It’s now two years on, his mental health is much better. He was selling to some friends, and that is street dealing. There’s no chain here, there was no significant financial advantage. He wasn’t even aware that this was a controlled substance that he shouldn’t have passed on.”

Hope was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 100 hours of unpaid work, and must pay a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.