Drug addict and pregnant partner avoid prison over diazepam-dealing racket
A drug addict and his heavily pregnant partner were spared jail yesterday after appearing in court on drugs offences.
Warren Whiteside (27) and 26-year-old Deborah Thompson, who are both from Leggagh Court in Belfast, admitted being concerned in the supply of the class C drug diazepam.
As well as being caught with a rucksack full of diazepam in their home in June 2016, parcels from England addressed to the pair containing boxes of the drug were intercepted at the Royal Mail.
Whiteside - who Belfast Crown Court heard was a chronic drug addict - was handed an 18-month sentence, which was suspended for two years.
Thompson, meanwhile, due to give birth to the couple's second child next month, was placed on probation for two years.
Their offending emerged in 2016 when their details were linked to an investigation in England regarding the supply of diazepam via Facebook.
Around the same time the PSNI was investigating parcels from England to various addresses in Northern Ireland which were intercepted at Royal Mail depots and which contained drugs.
Crown barrister James Johnston said the investigation in England centred around two people in Exeter who were selling and supplying diazepam on bogus Facebook accounts.
When items linked to the two suspects were seized and examined, information on a mobile phone led the investigation to Thompson and Whiteside.
Mr Johnston said that while Whiteside has a criminal record for drugs offences, the only entry on Thompson's record was a fine for not paying her TV licence.
The barrister also said he recognised there had been a delay in this case, which was attributed to the Crown and not the defence.
Defence barrister Martin Morgan, representing White, said that his client had a long-standing drug addiction, which was exacerbated after a paramilitary beating he sustained in January 2016, and at one stage he was taking over 20 diazepam a day.
Mr Morgan said that in the three-year delay in bringing the case to court, Whiteside and Thompson have "got on with their lives" and were expecting their second child next month.
Representing Thompson, Matt Higgins said his client was a hard-working woman with an almost clear criminal record.
He added that Thompson's focus now was to provide a loving and stable home for her children.
Citing the case against the couple as "serious", Judge Stephen Fowler QC said she accepted Thompson was "living with an addict". He also accepted the couple took the opportunity to buy the tablets online, together with added "pressure from the local community" to do so.