Category Archives: Drugs
A former public schoolboy detained after taking a “legal high” died from a cardiac arrest after he was found in his police cell, an inquest jury ruled today.
James Herbert, 25, died almost three years ago after he was held under the Mental Health Act by Avon and Somerset Police.
Mr Herbert, who started smoking cannabis as a teenager and also took cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy and LSD, had taken the NRG-1 drug when he was seen acting strangely in Bath Road, Wells, Somerset on the evening of June 10, 2010.
He was restrained by police, placed in the back of a patrol van and driven more than 27 miles to Yeovil police station before being carried on a blanket into a cell, where he was left on the floor naked.
Mr Herbert was later found to be unresponsive and was taken to Yeovil District Hospital by ambulance where he was declared dead.
Following a three-week hearing at Wells Town Hall where an inquest jury heard from 34 witnesses and saw 30 written statements, a narrative verdict was returned by the panel.
They said the data recover engineer, who lived in Wells, died from “cardio-respiratory arrest in a man intoxicated by synthetic cathinones causing acute disturbance following restraint and struggle against restraint”.
“At 9.21pm on June 10, 2010 James Herbert died at Yeovil District Hospital following a cardiac arrest whilst detained at Yeovil custody suite,” they said.
“James Herbert was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and he was intoxicated by synthetic cathinones, he struggled violently against necessary restraint, he displayed acute behavioural disturbances and these factors probably contributed to his death.”
The jury also highlighted factors that may have contributed to Mr Herbert’s death, such as the lack of communication between police officers about Mr Herbert’s mental health, drug use and previous incidents; the failure to call for medical assistance while he was being taken to the police station; and the need for closer monitoring of him during that journey.
East Somerset Coroner Tony Williams said he would be writing to the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police to highlight those issues raised by the jury.
“I do intend to write a report to the chief constable. I will not be making recommendations,” the coroner said.
“I should say that Avon and Somerset Police have previously responded to a number of recommendations as highlighted by the IPCC investigation into James’s death and it is gratifying to hear that some action has been taken in advance of this process.”
Speaking after the verdict, Mr Herbert’s parents, Tony Herbert and Barbara Montgomery, criticised the police.
“We are pleased the jury has recognised the serious failings of the police officers in their duty of care towards James,” they said.
“Evidence throughout the inquest has shown that had the officers responded differently, and treated the situation as a medical emergency, there is every likelihood that James would have survived his ordeal and still been with us today.
“This has been an intense and exhausting few weeks and the combative approach of Avon and Somerset Police, not to mention their unwillingness to admit wrongdoing, have been hard to bear.
“We can only hope now that lessons will be learned and James’s tragic death may help to make it a safer world for others, particularly for the vulnerable and those struggling with mental illness.”
Chief Superintendent Nikki Watson, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “James’s death was a tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family.
“This case reinforces the dangers of legal highs.
“My officers were faced with a very difficult situation and in challenging circumstances they did their very best to protect James and the wider community.
“Police stations are not the most appropriate place of safety for people detained under the Mental Health Act.
“However, on many occasions it is often the only option available to us.
“We have taken note of the coroner’s helpful comments about communication, risk-assessment and places of safety.
“We will now reflect on how to improve our service in these challenging, but thankfully rare, situations.”
Following the inquest, the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed it had “found a case to answer” for misconduct for an acting inspector, the custody sergeant and two police constables but the Avon and Somerset force had decided not to take disciplinary action.
The watchdog said it has also made a number of recommendations to the force following this incident.
“Avon and Somerset Constabulary held misconduct meetings for these officers and decided that the officers would not face misconduct sanction,” an IPCC spokesman said.
“The legislation governing police misconduct gives the employing force the decision on what sanctions, if any, to apply and the IPCC has no powers to direct outcomes.”
IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “My condolences go to Mr Herbert’s family and friends at this difficult time for them.
“I have offered to meet them and would like to do so before the IPCC publishes its investigation findings.”
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, 56, has lost her appeal over a UK Government refusal to fund her legal challenge against a death sentence imposed by an Indonesian court for drug smuggling.
Her lawyers attempted to challenge a High Court ruling that the Government was not legally obliged to pay for “an adequate lawyer” to represent her.
But today three senior judges headed by Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, dismissed her challenge in the Court of Appeal.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office refused to fund her case as a matter of Government policy.
She was sentenced to death by firing squad by a court in Bali for taking £1.6 million of cocaine on to the island.
In January, the UK High Court upheld the Government’s stance of not providing legal funding for British nationals arrested abroad, even in exceptional circumstances.
After the High Court gave its decision, Sandiford received a private donation of over £2,500 that enabled her to be represented by an Indonesian lawyer at the subsequent Bali appeal.
Having lost that first appeal, she is now in a race against time to raise money to take her case to Indonesia’s Supreme Court in Jakarta.
The appeal court heard today Sandiford needs about £8,000 to fight on.
The sum of £2,000 has already been found, but around £6,000 is still needed from the Government as money from private sources following publicity was “fully exhausted”, said lawyers for Sandiford, who is not entitled to legal aid in Indonesia.
Lord Dyson, sitting with two other judges, said the court had given “very careful consideration” to the issues raised in what he described as a “troubling” case.
He said the reasons for the judgment would be given “as soon as possible”.
Lord Dyson, when announcing the decision to dismiss the appeal, said it was “obviously a terribly serious matter”.
He said it was “most unfortunate” that the sum required to secure the representation sought by the appellant – roughly £6,000 – was “relatively speaking” a “very small sum indeed”.
The judge added: “But that cannot affect the principle that we have had to consider and it cannot affect our decision.
“But it may be that other means may be found to secure the relatively small sum in the course of the next few days.”
Rosa Curling, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day, which is representing Sandiford, said outside court: “We are obviously very disappointed by the decision and we will consider with our client once we have received the reasoning of the court whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Balinese police said Sandiford was at the centre of a drugs-importing ring involving three other Britons, but she claimed she was forced to transport the drugs to protect her children whose safety was at stake.
She received the death sentence, despite prosecutors asking only for a 15-year jail term, after she was accused of damaging the image of Bali.
Aidan O’Neill, a Scottish QC, argued on Sandiford’s behalf that it was reasonable to expect the Foreign Office to provide funding and the case was of “overwhelming importance” because it involved the death penalty.
During a day-long appeal hearing, he submitted: “It also raises issues of significant public interest, concerning the extent to which fundamental rights protection can be claimed against the UK Government by UK nationals when abroad, and specifically in non-European countries.”
Mr O’Neill said it was “an exceptional case” involving importants points of European law.
The Government claim to have “a long-standing policy” not to provide funding was not true and it had in the past provided financial assistance, in exceptional circumstances, to prepare legal proceedings.
Mr O’Neill said an urgent decision was needed because an appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court had to be notified to that court by April 25, Thursday this week.
Defending the refusal to pay out, Martin Chamberlain QC, for the Foreign Secretary, said the non-funding policy was rational and lawful.
In any event, he argued, the Sandiford case “did not stand out from the crowd” when it came to similar cases – “I don’t think this case is exceptional”.
Before the 30-minute adjournment in which the court considered its decision, Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Patten, referred to the speed with which the court had had to deal with the issues raised because of the urgency of the case and said it was “terribly unsatisfactory”.
He indicated it could have been a case where there should have been a reference to the European Courts.
Today’s challenge was to the January 31 ruling by High Court judges Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Davies that the Government was legally entitled to adopt a blanket rule denying funding and it did not act irrationally or unlawfully in Sandiford’s case.
The British Government said it was disappointed when Sandiford lost her bid to block the sentence.
The FCO reiterated the UK’s opposition to the death penalty and said it had repeatedly made representations to the Indonesian government about the case.
Foreign Office lawyers say the Government opposes the death penalty and supports initiatives designed to encourage states in favour of it to “change their position”.
It also makes grants to charities such as Reprieve to assist individuals charged with capital offences and, in appropriate cases, to make state-to-state representations.
But the court was told that “it does not operate a legal aid scheme to cover legal expenses for British nationals involved in criminal proceedings abroad. Nor does it provide funds in exceptional cases.”
Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith said: “Sometimes courts order politicians to do the right thing, and sometimes they don’t.
“Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the same thing: does David Cameron’s Big Society mean that Lindsay Sandiford has to face execution alone, or will the UK government ultimately recognise its duty to provide a very small amount of funding to help her have something as basic as a lawyer to stand at her side when a foreign country seeks her execution?”
Sandiford told those who have donated money towards her appeal that she has been humbled by the experience as she deals with “the ultimate emotional rollercoaster ride”.
She also said she is appealing “first and foremost” so she can meet her granddaughter, who was born in December.
In a message sent to supporters yesterday, she said: “I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and caring. I’ve always been an independent person and I hate not to be able to pay my way.
“So for me this is a very humbling experience having to rely on the kindness of strangers and am very deeply touched.
“I am trying to help myself. As you are probably aware the Government won’t assist despite pontificating that they are opposed to the death penalty.
“I knit and have just finished a piece that I’m hoping to auction to assist paying for my local lawyer and his assistants.
“They are really good people along with the enormous debt I owe to Reprieve for their support and simple caring.
“I know I have been difficult to deal with as the situation I am in leads to the ultimate emotional rollercoaster ride. They have been brilliant.”
She also thanked UK charity Prisoners Abroad for “quietly” supporting her with funds for drinking water and food.
“I will never be able to express the joy they gave to me,” she wrote. “The precious gift of a visit from my youngest son.
“Finally thank you to my family without whom I would have not had the will to carry on. The love I have received is beyond measure.
“I’m appealing first and foremost for someone I haven’t met but so very much want to and want to get to know. My granddaughter who was born on December 1 2012.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your caring.”
A corrupt detective who stole enormous amounts of seized drugs and conspired to sell them back on to the streets with his brother, making them at least £600,000, has been jailed for 23 years.
West Yorkshire Police Detective Constable NicholasMcFadden (l), 38, helped himself to more than £1 million of heroin, cocaine and cannabis by exploiting “slack” procedures while working at secret evidence stores.
He and his brother, Simon McFadden, 41, who was today jailed for 16 years, conspired to sell the drugs back to underworld contacts.
A judge sentencing the duo at Leeds Crown Court said both were motivated by one factor – an “insatiable greed” that made them “so much money that they simply didn’t know how to spend it”, but ultimately led to their downfall
brothers lived a champagne lifestyle, splashing out on exotic holidays, designer clothing, expensive jewellery, pricey artwork, home improvements and private number plates for their cars, jurors in the five-week trial heard.
Simon McFadden also indulged his love of expensive sausages, which he and his wife Karen, 41, an NHS medical secretary, washed down with gallons of champagne.
When police raided Nicholas McFadden’s family home in Castleford, West Yorkshire, they found almost £160,000 in banknotes stuffed into sacks in his garage and £20,000 hidden around his house. They also discovered £6,000 in his performance car.
On his arrest, Nicholas McFadden had £430,000 which could not be traced to legitimate sources.
Simon McFadden had £160,000 which could not be accounted for and claimed it was casino winnings. He had, in reality, lost £8,000 at the casino in the period in question.
Karen McFadden, who lived with Simon in Harehills, Leeds, was spared an immediate jail term for the sake of her teenage son after admitting money laundering.
She was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years after the court heard she revelled in their new-found wealth but did not know how her husband was making the money, of which she spent £11,000 at upmarket department store Harvey Nichols.
The detective was caught after regularly paying cash into ATMs, which triggered a bank’s security alert and police were informed. When he was arrested, he told police he found bags of cash in a ditch by the M62 and later claimed he made it selling illegal steroids.
Judge Tom Bayliss said: “The two of you were putting back on the streets drugs which successful police operations had taken off the streets. And in doing so you became very rich.”
However, he added: “The effect on all of you is devastating. For a brief period, crime paid for your extravagances – but now you have a lifetime to regret it.”
He told Nicholas McFadden, who joined the force in 2000 and siphoned off drugs being held as evidence when he worked for a special organised crime group: “In the course of your duties you had access to controlled drugs, and you abused your position to steal and trade in those drugs.
“Drugs that were taken off the street by your colleagues were put back on the street by you and your brother, Simon. Drugs like heroin – noted for the misery that it brings to those who have the misfortune to be addicted to it and for the crime that is caused by those desperate wretches to get their hands on the money to buy it.
“Your motive was simple – greed.
“By your actions, Nicholas McFadden, you have brought yourself down from a position commanding respect to the life of a vulnerable prisoner with no prospect other than financial ruin upon your release.”
Turning to the disgraced detective’s brother, Judge Bayliss said: “You, Simon McFadden,are a hard-working man reduced to criminality by greed.”
Judge Bayliss criticised the West Yorkshire Police security measures in place at the time, saying they “were not operated as robustly as one would expect” at the secret evidence stores, which housed guns, massive amounts of drugs and other contraband.
“The system seems to have relied to a large extent upon the integrity of those operating it and, as a consequence, it was open to abuse.
“Nicholas McFadden, you took advantage of that weakness. You exploited shortcomings and exploited individuals to steal.”
Between 2007 and 2011, the police officer stole drugs that had been seized in major multimillion-pound raids and from international criminal deals.
He took 53lb (24kg) of heroin with a street value of £1.2 million, nearly 200lb (around 90kg) of cannabis resin worth around £90,000 wholesale and thousands of pounds worth of cocaine, Judge Bayliss said.
He stole them while moving them between premises, and in a bid to cover his tracks claimed that exhibits had been destroyed when he had actually taken them.
On one occasion he stole bags of drugs that he had taken to court to present as evidence during a trial.
Both brothers then conspired to sell them, and mobile phone text messages found by police when their homes were raided showed they were moving them on to a network of criminal contacts.
To explain his new-found wealth, Nicholas McFadden told colleagues that his wife, Clair, had received an insurance payout after getting cancer, which was a total lie, the court has heard.
He also later told Clair, a teacher, that he had made lots of money from overtime and his police pension was kicking in.
The father of one, who rekindled a “strong friendship” with his former partner – a police officer called Tanya Strangeway – during his marriage, gave her more than £13,000 in cash and bought her an Audi car, claiming he had a windfall after selling his house, jurors were told.
Simon McFadden’s purchases included a £5,000 piece of art and a private number plate for his wife’s Mazda MX5 sports car which read M2 SXY – “I’m too sexy” – the court heard.
Nicholas denied stealing the drugs and conspiring to supply them but pleaded guilty to money laundering. Simon denied conspiracy to supply.
However, it took jurors in the five-week trial less than four hours to find NicholasMcFadden guilty of stealing class A and B drugs including heroin and cocaine and both brothers guilty of conspiring to supply them.
The former police officer was acquitted on a charge of stealing amphetamine and the jury found both not guilty of conspiring to supply it.
None of the defendants had previous convictions.
After the jury returned their verdict on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “This case has focused on a corrupt police officer – this man was in fact a criminal purporting to be a police officer.
“Nicholas McFadden was devious, he was cunning and he used his position to abuse the trust of others in order to steal controlled drugs.
“Some police officers, Nicholas McFadden’s former colleagues, had risked their lives to take drugs off the streets and he, along with his brother, was putting them back there.”
Amy Winehouse’s ex-husband has told of his regret at introducing her to hard drugs – but has claimed her addiction worsened when they were apart and became alot worse when he was in prison.
Blake Fielder-Civil said the two of them spent only four months in which they were taking drugs together as “addicts”, due to his spells in jail.
He spoke in an emotional interview as a guest on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show screened today in which he told of his tears and disbelief when prison staff told him Winehouse had died.
Fielder-Civil – who was married to the singer for two years – said of their heroin and crack use: “Out of maybe a six or seven-year relationship that me and Amy had on and off, there was drug use for about four months together.”
He went on: “We used heroin together as addicts for like four months, then I went to jail.
“Then it got a lot worse while I was in jail and then when I came out of jail I was told that if I loved her I’d divorce her and set her free and I did.”
The 34-year-old said he had used heroin “three or four times” before she was introduced to the drug.
He said they were in a room in an east London hotel and he had around a £10 batch.
“I was smoking it on foil and she said can I try some and I said… I might have put up a weak resistance – the fact is whatever I said she did end up having some,” he said.
“I have to be really sort of conscious about what I say – I don’t want to feel like I’m shirking responsibility.
“The fact is what I’m saying is of course I regret it, not just ‘cos of the damage it’s caused Amy and the loss of life, but the damage to her family but also to my family and also to me.
“You know we’ve all sort of gone through this addiction.”
Winehouse died in July 2011 and a second inquest found last month that she died from accidental alcohol poisoning.
A nurse cleared over the poisoning deaths of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport faces being struck off after she admitted stealing drugs.
A panel found Rebecca Leighton’s fitness to practice impaired following a disciplinary hearing in which she suggested staff habitually took medication from the premises.
Ms Leighton (above), 29, spent six weeks in jail when she was arrested in connection with the deaths on the acute care wards in 2011 but was released when prosecutors concluded there was not enough evidence against her.
But the police investigation revealed she had removed packets of painkillers and opiate-based drugs from the hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She admitted taking the medicine which was discovered in her bedroom.
The panel will now consider what sanctions to impose, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said. These range from a caution to being struck off.
Ms Leighton was thrust into the spotlight after she was implicated in the scandal at Stepping Hill. A total of 22 people suffered hypoglycaemic episodes between June and July 2011 after their saline drips were allegedly sabotaged with insulin. Eight of these victims – all of whom were being treated on acute care wards for seriously ill patients – have now died.
During her disciplinary hearing, Ms Leighton claimed staff would take drugs – such as the painkiller ibuprofen – from the hospital, sometimes for use during their holidays in “case of emergencies”.
Tom Hoskins, for the NMC, said: “She said that if the police were to search any number of employees from Stepping Hill Hospital, a random person, they would find them also in possession of such tablets.”
Paul Rooney, for Ms Leighton, told the hearing the nurse admitted the allegations against her which related to seven drugs, including the opiate-based tramadol capsules which she is accused of supplying or intending to supply.
He said: “Ms Leighton accepts that these charges amount to misconduct and further accepts that by that misconduct, she has brought the profession into disrepute and therefore her current fitness to practice is impaired.”
The Government has been accused of breaching the “fundamental rights” of a British grandmother sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling by refusing to pay for legal representation as she battles for her life.
Two judges at London’s High Court are being asked to rule that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s failure to arrange “an adequate lawyer” for Lindsay Sandiford (above right), 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is unlawful.
Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, was given the death penalty by a court in Bali last week for taking 10.6lb (4.8kg) of cocaine on to the island.
The sentence would see her shot by a firing squad.
She was accused by the court of damaging the image of Bali and received the sentence despite prosecutors only asking for a 15-year jail term.
The High Court was told that a notice of appeal was filed with Indonesian officials earlier this week and she was given a 14-day deadline to file grounds of appeal.
Aidan O’Neill QC said Sandiford was urgently in need of funding because she is currently without legal assistance and her family have exhausted all of their available resources.
Mr O’Neill said there was “no prospect” that competent counsel would be appointed to represent Sandiford on appeal without the Government providing some funding.
Sandiford would not have access to an adequate lawyer unless the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FC0) made arrangements, or provided funds to an expert non-governmental organisation such as Reprieve, which seeks to protect the interests of prisoners worldwide.
A competent lawyer had been found in Indonesia who was willing to waive fees and act pro bono, but required “operational costs” estimated at £2,500 to be met, said Mr O’Neill.
He told Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies that the FCO had unlawfully fettered its own discretion by applying a blanket ban on providing legal representation to British nationals overseas.
The refusal to assist Sandiford was a breach of Government obligations to take all reasonable steps to ensure that her “inviolable human dignity” was respected and protected.
Mr O’Neill said the Government was failing to protect her right to life – and not to face the death penalty – despite being required to do so by the European Convention on Human Rights.
There was also an obligation on the Government to ensure Sandiford had a fair trial and any penalty imposed on her was not disproportionate.
There was also a violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a departure, without giving a good reason, from the Government’s own policy strategy for the abolition of the death penalty.
This included a commitment to provide adequate legal assistance in countries which retain the death penalty, said Mr O’Neill.
FCO lawyers are arguing that it is not unlawful or irrational under UK-EU law and human rights legislation for the Foreign Secretary to refuse to fund Sandiford’s appeal.
Law firm Leigh Day, which is working with Reprieve and representing Sandiford in court, is seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision not to pay.
It argues Sandiford has not been properly represented since her arrest at Bali airport in May last year, when customs officers found drugs sewn into the lining of her suitcase.
Richard Stein, partner in the human rights team at the firm, said before today’s hearing: “The Government has a duty to ensure that the human rights of British citizens are protected and that those sentenced to death, or suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed, have adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.
“This judicial review will challenge the Government’s refusal to fund the £2,500 in expenses it would cost for a qualified Indonesian lawyer to represent Lindsay in her appeal against execution by firing squad which will take place on the beach in Bali if the Government do not act.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said that the Government does not fund legal representation for British nationals abroad, but Sandiford’s case was being raised through diplomatic channels.
A spokesman said: “We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time.”
A lawyer for the troubled son of actor Michael Douglas will try to convince a New York appeal court today that he should not have to spend a decade in prison for drug crimes.
The Douglas name – first with patriarch Kirk and later with son Michael – has always meant gold for Hollywood. But drama for the third generation of the Douglas family has occurred mostly off-screen, where Cameron Douglas has battled drug addiction and legal troubles.
In papers submitted for appeal court arguments today, prosecutors and a lawyer for Cameron Douglas have retold in greater detail than before how a man who seemed to have so many advantages in life could land in prison for a decade on a drug conviction.
The dispute is over Manhattan Judge Richard Berman’s decision to double Douglas’ five-year prison term after he committed several new drug infractions, including convincing a lawyer-turned-love interest to sneak drugs into prison for him in her bra on three or four occasions.
Judge Berman said he had not “ever encountered a defendant who has so recklessly and wantonly and flagrantly and criminally acted in as destructive and (as) manipulative a fashion as Cameron Douglas has”.
In his brief, Douglas’ lawyer Paul Shechtman called the additional sentence “shockingly long”, saying it “may be the harshest sentence ever imposed on a federal prisoner for a drug possession offence”.
Douglas, 34, was originally accused of distributing and conspiring to distribute more than 4.5kgs of methamphetamine and 20kgs of cocaine from August 2006 until his July 28, 2009 arrest at a Manhattan hotel.
At the time, he was so visibly high on heroin that he was taken first to a hospital before he was brought to court, and it was later learned he had been shooting the drug five to six times a day for five years, Mr Shechtman noted.
He was released from custody on condition that he remain under “house arrest” with a private security guard at his mother’s apartment, Mr Shechtman said. Within days, he persuaded his girlfriend, Kelly Sott, to smuggle heroin to him, hidden in an electric toothbrush. Once discovered, his bail was revoked and he was incarcerated.
Sott pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour in a plea deal and was sentenced to the seven months she had already served.
Still, Douglas gained leniency from what otherwise could have been a mandatory 10-yearprison sentence by co-operating with the government, contacting his suppliers by telephone and text messages as law enforcement agents watched. As a result, two drug suppliers were arrested and convicted. Douglas gave evidence at the trial of one supplier.
Douglas was sentenced to five years in prison for a January 27, 2010, guilty plea to narcotics distribution charges even before his co-operation was completed.
At sentencing, judge Berman noted that the Douglas family had staged interventions for Cameron Douglas that he had refused and that two decades of drug addiction treatment had been unsuccessful. He said it appeared incarceration had produced the longest period of sobriety for Douglas since he was 13.
However, it was learned afterwards that even before the April 20, 2010, sentencing, Douglas had persuaded one of his lawyers – a 33-year-old associate at a law firm with whom lawyers said he also had a romantic relationship – to smuggle Xanax pills to him inprison. Mr Shechtman said she “apparently became enamoured of Cameron during frequent visits”.
He admitted that he had shared the 30 Xanax pills with other inmates and that he had also smoked cigarettes, gambled, snorted substances and committed other offences while in prison.
Shortly after giving evidence at the October 3, 2011, trial of a drug supplier, prison staff caught Douglas with the opioid dependence medication Suboxone and a white powdery substance believed to be heroin. The prison punished him with disciplinary segregation for 11 months and cancelled nearly three months of his good conduct time.
On October 20 last year Douglas again pleaded guilty to drug possession, agreeing in a plea deal that the sentencing range should be an additional 12 to 18 months in prison.
Prosecutors say that within a week of the plea, the government learned from a co-operating defendant in another case that Douglas had misled the government about how he obtained heroin while in prison.
Douglas had claimed he obtained the heroin by chance, the government said, but prosecutors say the co-operator revealed he had brought the drugs directly to Douglas’ cell.
In court papers, Mr Shechtman blamed Douglas’ long history of substance abuse and growing up with little parental support.
“While still a young teenager, he drank heavily and began selling drugs after his father sharply limited snorting cocaine,” he said. “He used illegal drugs to self-medicate – to ward off depression and panic attacks.”
His drug habit led him to be sacked from a film in which he had a minor role in 2006, the lawyer said.
“Exasperated, his father gave him an ultimatum: enter a drug rehabilitation programme or have his access to family money sharply limited. Cameron declined to enter treatment; his father carried out his threat; and Cameron turned to drug dealing to support his habit,” Mr Shechtman wrote.
Mr Shechtman is arguing that the judge has gone too far with Douglas, punishing an addict for something beyond his control.
Crime rates among women suffering from poor mental health or substance misuse would be cut by offering medical support rather than handing out jail sentences, a poll suggests.
Around seven in 10 people (69%) believe treatment for drug addiction would be the most effective measure to reduce reoffending among women who commit non-violent crimes.
The poll of around 1,550 people finds that 68% think support to tackle alcohol abuse would be most beneficial, while 62% think providing mental health care would reduce reoffending.
It comes after the Prison Reform Trust, which commissioned the research, launched a three-year strategy to reduce the imprisonment of women in the UK.
Around half of women leaving prison are reconvicted within one year of release, the trust said.
This proportion rises to more than 60% for women serving a short sentence of 12 months or less.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Most women in prison are serving short sentences for petty persistent offending and non-violent crime. Most have been victims of serious crime, domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“Solutions to women’s offending lie not behind bars but in effective treatment to beat addictions to drugs and drink, mental health care and help to get out of debt.
“The public understand this. Now it is up to Government to put things right.”
Three-fifths of people (61%) say helping women offenders get out of debt would be effective at cutting crime rates, while just over half (54%) back supervision and support centres for women serving community sentences, the YouGov poll finds.
Ensuring female offenders make amends with victims is considered an effective strategy by 53%.
Imprisonment was ranked as the seventh most effective way of addressing women’s offending, with backing from 52%.
The poll findings follow data released by the Ministry of Justice which show the rate of self-harm for women prisoners is 10 times higher than that for men.
More than half the women in prison report having suffered domestic violence and one in three have experienced sexual abuse, the trust said.
About 13,500 women are jailed in the UK every year, it said.
On average, 4,650 women are in jail at any one time, while the average annual cost of a women’s prison place is £56,415.
This is compared with £10,000 to £15,000 for an intensive community order, the trust said.
Dame Elish Angiolini, chair of the Scottish Commission on Women Offenders, is giving a lecture on reforming women’s justice at Friends House in central London.
“In a long history of pretty meaningless soundbites, ‘short, sharp shock’ at least has the merit of being an attractive display of an alliteration,” she will say.
“That is its only value. Far from having a deterrent effect, the short sentence has the impact of inoculating women offenders from any deterrent value of imprisonment. Neither are these sentences suitable as a refuge from the harsh reality of life outside for some badly damaged women.
“Prison needs to stop being the default position because of inertia in finding robust and effective alternatives in the community. It is time to abandon the fragmented efforts at tackling the profound underlying problems propelling so many women in Scotland and elsewhere into prison, and adopt a cohesive and coherent approach.”
Justice minister Helen Grant said: “For some women, prison is the only sentencing option for the courts. This is right both in terms of punishment and the need to protect the public.
“But we need to ensure that sentencers have a range of options available to them, which include robust community sentences.
“This year we have provided an additional £3.78 million to fund 31 women’s community services with the aim of tackling the underlying factors associated with women’s offending, including substance misuse, mental health issues and their often-long histories of domestic violence and abuse.
“This funding is also now embedded in the community budget to ensure the continued provision of women’s services in years to come.
“We are working with health partners to support the commissioning of drug and alcohol treatment in order to help deliver the rehabilitation revolution.”
A 76-year-old drug dealer who flew to France in his own plane to transport cocaine to sell on the streets of the UK has been jailed for 18 years.
George Evans, of Hadrian Walk, Pacation Way, Stevenage, ran a “sophisticated and commercial” operation which earned him and his wife Anne hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Ben Gumpert, prosecuting, told the court how the illegal dealing came to light in March 2010 when Evans was kidnapped and tortured by a gang who have never been caught.
The men drilled a hole into his foot, which they filled with glue, and electrocuted him on parts of his body over a number of days before throwing him on to the A6.
His 53-year-old wife had reported him missing, prompting police to search his house, where they found a stash of the drug-cutting agent benzocaine. They also found a quantity of cocaine in a store unit in Bartford.
Police later became aware of a car registered in his name found with a stash of cocaine inside it in France and arrested the couple, Mr Gumpert added.
The driver, Brian Smith, was detained in a French prison for nine months before being brought back to the UK where he was found to be an innocent victim of the operation, unaware of the stash he was transporting.
The court heard how Evans transported drugs from France to England where he stored them at his home before mixing them and selling them on the streets.
Throughout the operation he transferred more than £300,000 into his wife’s bank account and was found to have bought his house, worth more than £500,000, with cash.
The court heard how Mrs Evans, who now lives in High Road, Beeston, Bedfordshire, was not involved in the operation but was aware the cash she was receiving into her account was criminal property.
Judge Barbara Mensah told the couple: “(Judges) see the effects of drug dealing and both of you, to different extents, played your part in it.
“Mr Evans, you sold class A drugs on the market so others could suffer from addiction that is caused by it.
“Mrs Evans, you were prepared to assist with it.
“This was a sophisticated and commercial operation. Mr Evans you went overseas to purchase drugs in substantial quantities using your own vehicle or aircraft.”
She added that those who take up drug dealing in later life can still expect harsh sentences.
Evans was sentenced to 18 years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs at Luton Crown Court today.
They received 18 months each for acquiring criminal property and another 18 months for converting criminal property, to be served concurrently. Both must serve at least half of their sentence.
The couple were convicted by a jury in July.
The court heard how the couple had problems in their marriage but attempted to stay together for the sake of their 16-year-old son, who must now live with family friends while his parents serve their sentences.
Mr Evans will be at least 85 at the first opportunity he can be released.