Softer sentences proposed for town’s junkies

DRUG users and dealers in Weston should be given more lenient prison sentences because the town has a ‘vicious circle’ sucking addicts in, a court was told this week.

Michael Bateman appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Friday after admitting several drug offences and possessing a taser disguised as a mobile phone.

Ahead of Bateman’s sentencing Nadeem Aullybocus, defending, said it is more difficult for people in Weston to kick a drug habit because abuse is so rife in the town.

Bateman was jailed for two years and nine months after admitting seven charges, including possessing the stun gun and two cans of pepper spray.

He was spared the automatic five-year sentence because he claimed not to know it was a stun gun.

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Father-of-one Bateman was arrested following a police raid on his Raglan Place home on February 22.

Erinna Foley-Fisher, prosecuting, said officers found various types of drugs, two cans of pepper spray and the ‘suspected taser’.

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On August 31 Bateman admitted two charges of possessing class A and B drugs, two charges of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply and three charges in relation to possessing prohibited weapons.

But Mr Aullybocus, defending, told the court that because Bateman lives in Weston, he is more likely to get continually sucked into taking and dealing drugs.

He said: “I say this regularly in this court and I again ask the court to remember that this man comes from Weston. His friends were taking drugs and it’s a vicious circle.”

The court was told Bateman had only been in possession of the stun gun for a fortnight after it was left at his house following a party. Mr Aullybocus said Bateman would have handed it into the police had he known it was more than just a fancy gadget.

Mr Aullybocus also said his client did not know it was illegal to keep pepper spray.

Judge Geoffrey Mercer agreed with Mr Aullybocus’ claim that handing out the automatic five-year sentence for possessing a disguised stun gun was too harsh as Bateman had neither known what it was nor used it.

Sentencing Bateman, he said: “You have really thrown your life away over the last five years.

“Here you are arrested again in possession of various drugs, supplying class B drugs. You have some pepper sprays and a stun gun that normally activates the minimum sentence of five years.

“I sentence you on the basis that the stun gun was in your possession for a short time, you didn’t know what it was and had no intention to use it.”

Bateman was given a two-year sentence for possessing the illegal weapons and an 18-month sentence for the drug offences to run concurrently.

He was also handed a nine-month consecutive sentence following a previously suspended offence and the �813 found at his home was part of confiscation order.

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