A cocaine dealer who ran up a £15,000 debt before being caught in Hastings has been spared jail.
Brendan Huntley was 19 years old when police found him with cocaine and cannabis, along with three mobile phones in July 2018, a court heard.
Huntley, now 20, of Filmwell Close in St Leonards, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of drugs with intent to supply (one Class A, one Class B).
The trainee scaffolder appeared at Lewes Crown Court today for sentencing.
Caught with £1,200 of cocaine
Prosecutor Beverley Cherrill told the court that Huntley was caught when police raided a building in All Saints’ Street.
Officers found him there with 12g of cocaine worth up to £1,200 and 23.3g of cannabis valued at £230.
“They found little bags, digital scales, three mobile telephones and £352.11 in cash.
“Each of these telephones had texts on them relating to the supply of drugs, the type sent out to would be drug users.”
'Overwhelming pressure' to pay off £15,000 drug debt
Acknowledging she faced an uphill battle, defence barrister Laura Plant asked that Huntley not be sent immediately to prison.
She said: “He became involved as a drug user, mostly cannabis.
“He got involved in an escalating offence of dealing the drugs which he was using because of a debt to the person whose drugs they were.”
The drug debt – of which at least a large portion is still owed – was for £15,000, the court heard.
Huntley became ‘overwhelmed by the pressure’ to repay the debt, she said.
Ms Plant asked the judge not to jail Huntley.
She told Judge Christine Laing QC: “Give this young man a chance. This is a young man whose family are all here to support him.
“This is one young man that Your Honour could take a risk on.”
Judge: 'You have to take this chance'
After considering the case for some time, Judge Laing told Huntley to stand up.
She said: “This court has no truck with drug dealers. It brings misery to an awful lot of people.
“That is why the sentencing guidelines are as harsh as they appear to be.
“You are maturing and have matured considerably since you got caught doing this.
“I am minded to give you one chance but you have to take this chance.”
Judge Laing said she realised that in reality Huntley would still have a debt to pay, but told him not to fall back into offending.
“If it means going back to committing crime be warned, the sentences from hereon in become really substantial.”
Huntley was given a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years.