Drugs suspects in Londonderry live in fear of being shot by paramilitaries, a police officer told a court yesterday.
The PSNI officer said "the majority of people in this town have the fear of being shot" if they appear in court on drugs charges.
She made the comments at the city's Crown Court during the sentencing of a 31-year-old man who was shot in the knee in his then home in November 2018 just six days before he was granted an anonymity order for drugs offences.
The defendant, who pleaded guilty to possessing and supplying cocaine and supplying cannabis, was arrested after his cousin's mobile phone was seized and examined by officers on June 3, 2018, as part of a police investigation.
The phone contained text messages and Facebook messages relating to drugs offences.
The defendant, who was granted continuing anonymity by Judge Philip Babington during yesterday's plea and sentencing hearing because of a pre-existing threat against him, was arrested near his then home on October 20, 2018.
The police found on him a £5 note which had been used to snort cocaine.
Officers found another small quantity of the drug in his home.
Defence barrister Stephen Chapman said that as a result of the shooting the defendant had a replacement knee inserted.
"He has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and since the shooting he has become reclusive," the barrister added.
He said the defendant bought and sold drugs to fund his own addiction and said there was no evidence that the defendant was supplying drugs to a wide circle of customers.
Judge Babington said the man was arrested as a result of good police work.
He told him: "The police are trying their hardest to reduce drugs offences in this city, which only cause a misery to so many. People like you do not help them.
"You have seen what drugs have done to you and you are the last person who should ever get involved in supplying drugs in any way.
"You have been treated appallingly by certain elements in society. That is unfortunately what can happen.
"There seems to have been a tragedy in your life and drugs got the better of you.
"What has happened to you and to your family, which included the death of your brother, was the result of drugs."
Judge Babington imposed an enhanced combination order under which the defendant will be on probation for two years and will serve 40 hours of community service.
"I do not want to see you back here again. You have suffered enough," he told him.