A STREET drug dealer caught with 113g of heroin and digital scales has been spared an immediate jail term after a judge heard that he has conquered his addiction. 

Steven Graham, 39, was also carrying “dealer bags” when police stopped him and searched him in Carlisle on November 9, 2021, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

He pleaded guilty to possessing that Class A drug with intent to supply as well as possessing cocaine and being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

The court heard that the defendant, of Finn Avenue, Carlisle, was caught after police spotted him leaving a property in the city which was associated with drug dealing. They decided to search him and found the incriminating evidence.

The court heard that Graham has 30 previous offences on his record, but no previous drug dealing crimes. His last conviction being a shoplifting offence from 2020. His record also included a burglary and drug possession offences.

Anthony Parkinson, defending, said Graham began dealing drugs to pay for his own drugs habit.

But over the last  two-and-a-half-year gap, as he waited for the case to come to court, Graham had not reoffended. Graham had rid himself of his drug addiction, said Mr Parkinson. He was now no longer taking the heroin substitute methadone.

As a result, he had been deemed by the Probation Service as being “a low risk to the public”. Mr Parkinson added: “Drug dealers, we accept, almost always go to prison but not always. There are exceptions.

“We submit that this is one of those cases. Notwithstanding the amount of drugs, there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in his case.”

Judge Michael Fanning said the defendant had acquired the drugs he was caught with from the property he had visited and his intention had been to sell them to fellow addicts.

The messages that police found on the phone he was carrying showed that he had been dealing in cannabis also.

This had been going on for four months.

The judge accepted Mr Parkinson’s explanation that there was no evidence to suggest that Graham was selling more drugs than was necessary to cover the cost of his own habit. Addicted to drugs for the last 20 years, Graham had been under pressure to help other dealers continue their illegal drug trading.

“You are a street dealer,” said the judge.

Judge Fanning noted the defence submission that the defendant was now clean but told him: “You can’t carry on as you were.

“Ordinarily, class A drug dealers have to go to prison because they know the impact that dealing class A drugs has on others, and the knock-on effects. People who take drugs can’t afford to buy them and go out burgling and stealing, so it spreads across the community.”

Welcoming Graham’s apparent shift towards rehabilitation, and the steps he has taken, Judge Fanning imposed a two year jail term suspended for 18 months. The sentence includes 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

As he left court, Graham told the judge: "Thank you Your Honour. It was nice to see you again."