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Teens dealt cannabis to class-mates

Cambridge Evening News , 24th February 2006

TWO teenagers made £1,000 a day supplying cannabis to students at a Cambridge sixth form college.

The youths, aged 17 and 18, were caught red-handed by police who found them dividing a stash of herbal cannabis in their car, weighing it out into portions to sell on to their friends at Long Road Sixth Form College.

The pair were expelled by the college after admitting charges of supplying cannabis between October 1 last year and January 24 this year and possession with intent to supply the drug on January 24, the day they were caught.

But a bid by the News to name the dealers was turned down by magistrates at Cambridge Youth Court who upheld their right to anonymity.

Delia Matthews, prosecuting, said: "At about 3pm police officers approached a car which was parked at Nightingale Avenue recreation ground and found two men who appeared to be weighing cannabis on electric scales. Some of it was in small bags, some in a larger polythene bag, and in total they were found to have 80g of cannabis in their possession.

"Both were perfectly cooperative with the police and when their houses were searched pieces of paper with names on were found, which appeared to be debt lists.

"The defendants confirmed they were going to sell the drugs at Long Road Sixth Form College and said they had been doing so for four months - they also said the cannabis they were caught with in the car had cost them £500 and had been bought in Cambridge." Ms Matthews said the students were equal partners in the venture, and had sold drugs to up to 50 students a day, at £20 a time, making up to £1,000.

James Dignan, for the 17- year-old, said the lad was a "hard working, intelligent and decent young man from a decent family", and claimed the prosecution's estimate of how much cannabis was being dealt was exaggerated.

He claimed his client bought about half an ounce of cannabis for £65 once or twice a week, and sold it on in quantities of an eighth of an ounce at £20 a time - making a profit of about £30 a week.

He said: "The offences are serious, but he did not appreciate just how seriously they are viewed by the court.

"This was not a large operation, this was casual dealing to friends and acquaintances - a couple of people at an age where, rightly or wrongly, cannabis is considered no more of an ill or evil than having a drink.

"It can't be put down to a momentary aberration, but it was a moment of stupidity and my client has been shaken to his boots by his situation and the thought of going to custody."

Monica Lentin, for the 18- year-old, said: "There was no suggestion these two were trying to induce younger people into using drugs.

"He is a good lad from a good and supportive home and I am sure he will never do anything similar to this again."

With his mother sitting, crying beside him, the 17-yearold said: "I'm sorry for what I have done, I have made a mistake and I wish to learn from it rather than be punished further.

"I'm shocked and appalled at myself for getting into this situation."

The older defendant, who was also supported in court by his parents, said: "I feel appalled by myself. I have affected my brother and parents and I want to put it behind me and start again because I have a lot going for me.

"I feel I have let so many people down and I'm devastated how I have affected them."

The youth's father said: "As a family we've been absolutely felled by this, we've been at very low ebb - the lowest we have ever got - and my son is very remorseful."

Harvey Harrison, presiding magistrate, ruled against an application by the News to name the teenagers, and also decided not to jail them for the offences.

He said: "We do not feel it is necessary to impose a custodial sentence as neither of you represent a risk to the community and there is little likelihood of you re-offending.

"But that doesn't diminish at all the seriousness of the offence, and I would warn both of you that you came very close to losing your liberty."

The 17-year-old was given a 12-month referral order, ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid work and to pay prosecution costs of £50.

The 18-year-old was given a 12-month community order, ordered to complete 70 hours of unpaid work and also made to pay court costs of £50.

Magistrates also ordered the drugs be forfeited and destroyed.

Pc Richard Jakins, community beat manager for the Queen Edith's ward in Cambridge, said: "These were serious offences, and we will continue to deal with anyone caught dealing illegal drugs robustly."

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