Derbyshire mum had to sell car to pay “exploited” dealer teen’s drug debt

A Derbyshire mum had to sell her car to pay off her son’s debt to a sinister drug dealer who was “directing” the “vulnerable” 17-year-old in the supply of class As from prison.

Friday, 15th July 2022, 1:50 pm

A court heard Ben Blakeley’s mother had her windows smashed after the teen was arrested - when his phone was found to contain “mass marketing” texts advertising drugs.

Derby Crown Court heard police spoke to Blakeley on nine separate occasions leading up to his prosecution and they were “extremely concerned” he was being exploited.

Suspending a 22-month jail term for 18 months today, Recorder Penelope Stanistreet-Keen told Blakeley he was “clearly ill-equipped” to deal with the situation he was in.

Derby Crown Court

The judge noted that the drug dealing operation the teen, now 19, was involved in was “far too sophisticated for you to set up yourself”.

Prosecutor Sarah Slater described how on the day of Blakeley’s arrest at his Matlock home on October 1, 2020, a search of his room uncovered a phone.

Text messages revealed the teen was dealing to at least 36 different people, with references to having a “runner”, providing “tick” credit and “reloads”.

Ms Slater said the teenager was working for someone in prison and having money paid into his bank account, selling cannabis cocaine, MDMA, LSD, Ketamine, heroin and other drugs.

However, Sonal Ahya, mitigating, described said her “very vulnerable” client was under pressure to sell the drugs in order to pay off a debt he had run-up with his criminal bosses.

While he was not paid in cannabis by those in command, not money.

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She described Blakeley as “a teenager struggling to come to terms with the circumstances of his father’s death and absence” who fell in with a group of friends who had “a negative impact”.

She said: “He began using cannabis, which elevated to cocaine and he became involved in the supply of drugs – there was pressure on him to pay off a debt he had accumulated.

"His mental health during the offending period was low – there have been several attempts at self-harm.”

Ms Sonal added that since Blakeley’s arrest windows had been smashed at his mother’s home and “in order to pay his debts she has sold the family vehicle”.

Recorder Penelope Stanistreet-Keen told Blakeley: “The police clearly believe you were being pressured by someone else.

"They spoke to you on nine separate occasions and were extremely concerned that you were being exploited.

"There was no particular financial gain and you were clearly ill-equipped to deal with the situation you found yourself in.”

Stepping back from immediate custody, the judge told him: “There is a proposal in place which provides a better prospect of rehabilitation.

"You may be less attractive to people who want you to deal drugs because of this prosecution.”

Blakeley, of Morledge, Matlock, admitted nine counts of supplying controlled drugs and one of theft by finding.

He was handed 20 rehabilitation activity days and 150 hours unpaid work.

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