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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Cumbrian ex-soldier imported £6,000 drugs from Pakistan

A former soldier who helped to import thousands of pounds worth of drugs into Cumbria has been spared prison amid fears that if he were locked up he could die there.

Carl Cleaver, 32, who saw active service in Kosovo and Afghanistan during his seven years as an infantryman, could have received a custodial sentence after admitting getting a £6,000 parcel of Temazepam tablets from Pakistan sent to his home in Windermere Road, Woodhouse, Whitehaven.

But the judge gave the former Lance Corporal a suspended sentence instead, after being told he suffered from a potentially deadly kidney disease.

“Prison is to punish, not to put someone in a position where his life could be threatened,” he said.

Prosecutor Dick Binstead said Cleaver had fallen on hard times when previous acquaintances, whom he described to the police as “not very nice people”, pressured him into receiving the drugs on their behalf.

He had been made homeless, had lost his job, was having trouble seeing his three children and had been badly hurt in a road accident, so he fell for their promise of easy money.

But the parcel containing the drugs was intercepted by customs officers, and swapped with a similar-looking dummy that was delivered to his home.

The unsuspecting Cleaver signed to acknowledge receipt of the package, and was arrested.

Cleaver, who works in United Utilities’ leaks management team, admitted conspiring with people unknown to import the 6,000, £1 tablets.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Muir said Cleaver had been promised just £200 for his role in the crime.

She said he was “absolutely terrified” by the prospect of being sent to prison, partly because of the consequences on his relationship with his children and partly because of what it would do to his health.

“He is likely to have to undergo dialysis and maybe a kidney transplant,” she said.

The judge, Recorder David Williams, said he accepted that the drug smugglers had approached Cleaver at “a vulnerable time” in his life.

But he said he was “somewhat sceptical” of his claim that he would have made only £200 from the venture.

But he said: “Prison would create serious dangers for you and your health.

“Prison is to punish, not to put someone in a position where his life could be threatened.”

He was given a 51-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 12 months’ probation supervision. He was ordered to pay £500 towards court costs – to be paid for out of a £10,000 insurance pay-out following the injuries he suffered in the road accident.

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