Taking drugs into Creamfields

As we approach the #Creamfields2019 festival thousands of people will descend into Daresbury in Cheshire. This is a very busy time for us criminal defence solicitors and it is not uncommon for extra duty solicitors to be allocated to deal with the volume of people arrested mainly for drug offences.

So please bear in mind the story of young Dean Haworth who visited the festival in 2017 intending to share his small number of drugs with friends. This has been a common scenario for many of our previous clients over the years and in most cases of this nature that we have dealt with the client avoided a prison sentence. That was before the case of this unfortunate person, whom we did not represent. What may happen in the future is less certain.

Here is what happened……..

On Bank Holiday Sunday 27th August 2017 Dean attended the Creamfields Music Festival in Cheshire. He had a Kinder Egg concealed within his anus containing seven wraps of cocaine. Whilst queuing for admission, he was challenged by police.

He told the police that he had purchased the cocaine for £300 and believed it to be of poor quality. It had been his intention to share the cocaine with his friends throughout the day. He later pleaded guilty saying that. The basis of plea said :

“I plead guilty upon the basis that my intention was only to supply cocaine to my friends. I would make no financial profit or any advantage at all.”

On 2nd March 2018 Dean , then  aged 25 years, was sentenced at the Chester Crown Court to eighteen months’ imprisonment for an offence of possession of cocaine with intent to supply

There was no disagreement before the court that the offence fell into category 4 of the sentencing guidelines because of the quantity and the  lesser role described by the  guidelines and also because of the purpose for which the cocaine had been purchased and the absence of any profit by virtue of its supply.

This meant that there was a sentencing range available for the court starting at a high-level community order going up to three years imprisonment with a basic starting point of eighteen months.

At the sentence hearing the  judge was  referred to a community impact statement prepared by the police which said among other things that the police invest heavily, both with financial and human resources, to ensure the preservation of order for, as well as enjoyment by, the large number of law-abiding festival goers.

Despite the recommendation in a pre-sentence report that he be spared an immediate prison sentence the sentencing Judge regarded even social supply at a music festival to be an aggravating feature and even more so given the opportunities which he had and chosen to ignore to give up the drugs. The Judge chose a starting point of two years, which he then reduced by 25% to eighteen months to reflect the timing of his plea and decided that the circumstances in which the offence was committed precluded him from suspending the sentence.

He appealed that sentence.

The appeal court took the view that as a regular drug user he would know that supply even if it was not for money still made him guilty albeit that he was to be punished less harshly because it was not commercial supply.  

The appeal court said:

“Further, in our judgment, this was a local judge who will have had other Creamfields supply cases before him. He was entitled to point to the conscious  decision which the appellant made, sign after sign, bin after bin, to proceed to the festival queue in the hope (and no doubt expectation) that he would get away with it, not only as a significantly aggravating feature over and above the venue at which the supply was to take place, but also as a reason why the sentence should not be suspended. ……Having given the matter careful thought…..we do not consider that the judge fell into error, either with the starting point of two years or by failing to suspend the sentence of eighteen months which he imposed. This was a case which called for a deterrent sentence, albeit one which fell within the definitive guidelines”

So, the moral of the story is that you are now far more likely to still go to prison even if the drugs that you take in was intended to just share with your mates. If they were for your own consumption that is a different and far less serious matter, but you might not be believed.

If you are unfortunate enough to be arrested do not forget that you have a legal right to be represented at the police station free of charge by the solicitor of your choice. The police will have the means to contact your solicitor on your behalf.

Rose & Dunn are specialist criminal defence and motoring law solicitors
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