Addict Nadine Thompson who supplied heroin that led to death of Jackie Brown avoids jail
A 22-year-old drug addict who supplied the heroin that tragically led to the death of a friend was on Thursday freed on the maximum of three years on probation.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland told Nadine Thompson while this was "no easy option", in her case the need for rehabilitation was "more important" than imposing a prison term, however short, just to punish her.
The senior Crown Court judge said it was clear that Thompson, who needed "a lot of support from a lot of agencies" was attempting to deal with her addiction and waiting to join the Belfast Trust-run methadone, Heroin, substitute programme, and jailing her would "interfere" with this.
Judge McFarland said while not passing comment on the allocation of resources, it was "unfortunate" that the support needed by her and other such addicts was not readily available, and in Thompson's case may even be up to a year before a place on the programme becomes open.
Thompson from Seaview Drive in the north of the city, had pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug on March 25 2015.
Judge McFarland said that the supply of the drug tragically led to the death of her friend Jackie Brown, from a "cocktail of drugs in her system". However, he said "essentially the court was dealing with three addicts .... who pooled their resources ... each contributing cash", to buy the Heroin.
He added that he was also taking into account her guilty pleas, and the remorse she had shown, not only reflected in those pleas, but in the genuine remorse at the loss of her friend Ms Brown and the circumstances of her own involvement in that.
Earlier prosecutor David Russell said that Thompon had gone in a taxi along with someone else to buy the Heroin and took them back to Ms Brown's Glenbank Place home, where she and others, including Ms Brown were taking drugs. The following morning Ms Brown was found dead on the settee and a post mortem later revealed that she had "died rapidly" after taking the Heroin.
The barrister said it also appeared that Ms Brown had also injested other drugs and it was this combination of morphine, codeine and diazepam in her system that was the cause of death. However, Mr Russell accepted that "essentially" the court was dealing with drug addicts and while Thompson "had facilitated" getting the drugs, it could have been Ms Brown who'd gone for the Heroin.
Defence barrister Luke Curran described Thompson as a "very vulnerable young woman" and that "very very tragically a friend died and that is something Ms Thompson has struggled to come to terms with .... and as your Honour has observed, it could have been Ms Thompson who could have passed away that night".
Mr Curran successfully argued her's was an exceptional case, given she was an exceptionally vulnerable young lady, while her friend died, it could also have been her, and that Thompson was already working with probation and other drug outreach programmes, while awaiting her chance for placement on the Trust's own Heroin substitute programme.