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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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West Cumbria's corner shop drug dealer

A man arrested for selling drugs from what amounted to a “corner shop” continued doing the same thing even after being released on bail pending his appearance in court.

Michael John Harwood photo
Michael John Harwood, of Whitehaven: Pleaded guilty to supplying and possessing various drugs with intent to supply them and was jailed for two and a half years. The court heard he had more than 25 previous convictions, including several for drugs offences.

Michael John Harwood, 40, was first arrested in May last year after police raided his home in Sneckyeat Grove, Hensingham, Whitehaven, and found £500-worth of illegal drugs.

Six months later – before the first case had reached court – he was arrested again after police raided his house a second time and found drugs worth more than £1,000 in his kitchen.

“You should have heard the wake-up call after the first time but you didn’t . . . and within a few months you were at it again,” Judge Paul Batty QC told him at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.

The judge said it was obvious that Harwood had in effect been running “a corner shop” for drug users in west Cumbria.

Prosecutor Alan Lovett told the court that on May 4 last year police found £213-worth of amphetamine, more than £200-worth of diazepam and nine wraps of cannabis valued at £108.

They also found scales and plastic bags to show that Harwood had been dividing the drugs into street-level deals, and a mobile phone with incriminating text messages from his customers.

When he was arrested, Mr Lovett said, Harwood told police he had been driven to do it because being on benefits meant he could not afford to buy the drugs he wanted for himself.

Harwood was charged with drug dealing offences and released on bail, the court heard.

Then, on November 2 the police went to search his house again.

Harwood was not in, Mr Lovett said, but police spotted him on a nearby street.

He ran away but was arrested after a chase, and a packet containing amphetamine and cannabis was found on him.

When the police got into his house they discovered amphetamine valued at £732 in a kitchen cupboard, with another £300-worth in a glass jar.

They also found scales, a knife, a spoon and a supply of cellophane in the kitchen, where he had clearly been putting the drugs into bags, Mr Lovett said.

Harwood, who had more than 25 previous convictions, including several for drugs offences, pleaded guilty to supplying and possessing the various drugs with intent to supply them.

In mitigation defence barrister Greg Hoare said Harwood did not have “the moral or mental wherewithal to withstand temptation”.

Harwood was sent to prison for two and a half years.

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