A pair of drug dealers have been ordered into rehabilitation after being snared by a police surveillance operation.
Mark Goddard and fellow addict Christopher Walker were found with heroin with a potential street value of more than £2,000 when officers raided a flat in Ilfracombe, North Devon.
Plain clothes drugs squad police had watched Goddard’s home and seen Walker leave it and go to a waiting BMW car with a £20 deal, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Inside the house they found more heroin, along with bags, scales, and a list of customers hidden in a secret compartment in the kitchen.
Unemployed Goddard, aged 43, of Oxford Grove, Ilfracombe, and chef Walker, aged 45, of Fore Street, Ilfracombe, admitted possession of heroin with intent to supply. Walker also admitted simple possession of the drug.
They were both jailed for a year, suspended for two years, and ordered to receive intensive drug rehabilitation as part of 12 months supervision.
Judge John Neligan said he was sparing them jail because they had both made great efforts to escape drug addiction since their arrests in October 2011.
He said:”As you both know, this is a very serious offence which passes the custody threshold. You have, with a great deal of determination and a lot of help, weaned yourselves off this habit and if I sent you to prison that work would be wasted.
“I give you credit for your pleas or guilty and also for the fact that in this very bad weather, when some roads in North Devon are impassable, you have actually got yourselves to court.
“This represents something of a last chance. I have taken account of the great strides you have both made and to send you to prison would simply destroy that work.
“It will be of more benefit to the public to rid you of drug addiction than to send you to prison for what would be a short time.”
Mr James Taghdissian, prosecuting, said police were acting on intelligence when they set up a surveillance operation outside Goddard’s flat in Ilfracombe and saw Walker arrive at the address.
He said:The three plain clothes officers were in an unmarked police car and saw Walker hanging around the area. A window opened and Goddard dropped a plastic bag out of the window which contained hypodermic needles which Walker took to a nearby chemist for disposal.
“He returned to the flat and was beckoned up by Goddard and police then saw him leave and walk towards a black BMW which was parked 12 feet away.
“The officers got out and arrested him and found two wraps of heroin and a third in his pocket. They then searched Goddard’s flat and found bags, brown powder, digital scales and £125 cash.
“They noticed two screws in a panel in the kitchen and removed a bard and found more brown powder and three telephone directories with names and monetary values written on them.”
Mr Taghdissian said 20 grams of heroin were recovered which police experts said could have a street value of £2,000 although they did not dispute the defendant’s lower figure of around £800.
Mr David Sapiecha, for Goddard, said he was selling bags of 0.29 grams for £10, leading to the lower calculation.
He said that at the time Goddard was so overwhelmed by his drug addiction he was unable to walk and has since spent four months in hospital.
He is now free of addiction for the first time in 20 years and added:”He has plumbed the depths of drug use before reaching the improvement he has today.
“He has a grand daughter of four months old and he wants to change his ways so he will not be going to prison when she has an awareness of the world. He is also the carer for his mother who has pulmonary disease.”
Mr Gareth Evans, for Walker, said he had gone to visit his housebound friend Goddard to exchange needles for him and was asked to take the two wraps to the car.
He said he has also been tackling his heroin problem and now has a stable home and a part time job at the Asian Spice restaurant.