AN armed teenage dealer has been spared jail for peddling ‘skunk’ cannabis in Worcester after officers were alerted by the strong smell of the drug.
Tyler Williams was spared jail at Worcester Crown Court yesterday after he was found with deals of cannabis in his car and rounders bat under the driver’s seat of his car as police swooped.
The 18-year-old admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply and having an offensive weapon (the rounders bat) after he was arrested in the A4440 Nunnery Way in Worcester on February 21 last year.
Williams was just 17 at the time he was caught, officers becoming alerted to the defendant’s activities because of the strong smell of cannabis coming from his Vauxhall Corsa.
Paul Whitfield, prosecuting, said officers found 10 deal bags concealed in the wheel arch and a further 30 to 40 deals in a rucksack in the boot.
The total value of the drugs was placed at £500.
He added: “The rounders bat was underneath the driver’s seat which would have been accessible to the driver.”
Williams also had £65 in cash which was seized by police along with an iPhone, a Nokia phone and a debit card.
Officers also raided his home address in Springfield Street, Birmingham where they discovered two more mobile phones, some cannabis seeds and a pair of scales. The phones yielded evidence of drug dealing messages, including incoming messages requesting drugs.
In police interview Williams claimed the cannabis was for personal use although he admitted the offences at a plea and trial preparation hearing at the crown court on January 13 this year.
Williams has a previous drugs conviction for possession of heroin, cocaine and cannabis resin for which he received a referral order as a youth.
James Bryce, defending, said his client had been smoking cannabis for a long time despite having no means and no job and therefore ‘runs up a drugs debt’.
Mr Bryce asked the judge to bear in mind that Williams was only 17 at the time of the dealing and to consider a reduction in the sentence as a result.
“He attended a special school from the age of eight onwards through to the time he left school at 16. He appears to have a significant shortfall in decision making and cognitive thinking which should be assessed” said Mr Bryce.
The defendant was supported by his mother at court, described by Mr Bryce as a ‘very sensible’ woman.
He asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence, arguing that any custodial sentence would ‘only be for a relatively short period of time’ and would also be his first sentence of imprisonment.
“There are concerns about his welfare if he were to go to prison,” said Mr Bryce.
Judge Nicolas Cartwright said cannabis may be a class B drug but that it did ‘enormous harm to the people who use it and therefore society’.
He said: “Everybody knows about the psychological damage that can be done by using strong skunk cannabis, the psychosis and other mental health problems it can cause.
“It’s society that ends up picking the pieces back up when people fall into heavy and long-standing use of cannabis.”
The judge said Williams had been dealing cannabis despite already receiving a referral order and was put under pressure to supply the drug to pay off the debt.
Judge Cartwright asked him: “What did you expect? You weren’t paying them for the cannabis and they weren’t going to let you off. It was perfectly obvious they were going to get you to do something to pay off the debt. As a dealer yourself, I don’t suppose you would have let off any of your customers. The whole thing was very foreseeable.”
However, the judge balanced this against the defendant’s youth at the time, arguing that him having to wait a year until he was sentenced was a long time at his age.
He also bore in mind that Williams was lightly convicted. He said he would give Williams a chance, making him subject to a community order for two years and ordering him to complete 160 hours of unpaid work.
However, he warned Williams: “This is a chance. You are unlikely to be given any further chances.”
Williams must also complete up to 19 days of a Thinking Skills Programme up to a maximum of 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
The judge also ordered Williams to pay £535 prosecution costs at a rate of £10 per week, telling him: “That’s probably less than you were spending on cannabis each week.”
The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and mobile phones.