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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Man tried to import illegal drug worth £64,000 from China

A well-paid Sellafield worker has been given a suspended jail sentence after he tried to import £64,000 worth of the illegal and potentially lethal drug mephedrone.

George Simpson told police that he began importing and selling the class B drug because he was in debt.

The 30-year-old, of The Oval, Whitehaven, spent more than £10,600 on importing mephedrone from a supplier in China and planned to make up to £2,000 a week from the illicit trade, the court heard.

His profit, had he not been rumbled by the police, would have been £53,000.

Prosecutor Beccy McGregor described how Simpson’s crime came to light in July last year when the UK Border Agency intercepted a package addressed to the Palm Beach Tanning Studio in Queen Street, Whitehaven.

Donna Woodall, who ran the studio, did not open it but immediately texted her friend, the defendant, telling him the package had arrived.

When confronted, Simpson told the police: “It’s my fault. and it’s nothing to do with Donna.”

She later admitted to police she suspected the package contained drugs and that she was to receive £160 in payment for accepting the parcel. She was given a police caution, said Miss McGregor.

The various packages ordered by the defendant turned out to contain just under one kilo of mephedrone, with a street value of £64,000.

Miss McGregor added: “When apprehended, he said that what he had done was wrong and he expressed his regret that he had involved his friend Donna in doing this.”

Alison Whalley, for Simpson, said: “He was suffering from anxiety and depression at the time of these offences and that explains why he started to take drugs.

“Until his late twenties, he did not touch drugs at all, but then he began using, went into debt and began dealing.”

She said Simpson’s grandmother had died in 2009 and he had gone through a relationship breakdown.

But passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC recognised that the defendant, a man of previous good character, had taken positive steps to turn his life around.

He said: “You have been in excellent, stable employment, buying your own house on a mortgage, and you have put everything in jeopardy by what you did.”

He said the background facts of the offence, and the “very positive steps” Simpson has taken to turn his life around, meant that he could take an exceptional course of suspending the 21-month jail term he would impose.

The judge also ordered that Simpson, who admitted supplying mephedrone and importing the drug illegally, must do 300 hours of unpaid work in the community.

The judge added that Simpson’s friend had been fortunate that she had been dealt with by way of a caution, though she had lost her good name as a result.

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