A Kenilworth man was getting a weekly ‘wage’ of hundreds of pounds worth of heroin and crack cocaine by acting as a street dealer for a drug supplying operation.
And a judge has rejected Matthew Wiltshire’s claim in a ‘basis of plea’ that he had only become involved in dealing because of pressure put on him over a drugs debt.
Wiltshire (47) of Ebourne Close, Kenilworth, was jailed for 30 months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply them.
Prosecutor Matthew Brook said that Wiltshire was stopped by the police in August last year and was found to have 25 wraps of heroin and 25 of crack cocaine, worth £500, and £125 in cash.
Wiltshire accepted he had been dealing in the two drugs for some time, but claimed he had been put under a lot of pressure to do so, which was not accepted by the prosecution.
Mr Brook said that earlier on the day of his arrest a text showed that Wiltshire had already taken £325 in drug sales.
Although he was ‘obviously a street dealer working for somebody else,’ the prosecution did not accept the degree of pressure Wiltshire claimed to have been under.
Giving evidence, Wiltshire said he had been supplying drugs for about six months to fund his own habit.
He explained: “I used to buy drugs, and my intake got more and more, and these people said ‘if you come to work for us, you can get your drugs off us,’ like a wage paid in drugs.”
Wiltshire, who said he only knew the men as M and Freeze, said his habit at the time was costing him about £100 a week, which he funded from his benefits and borrowing from his parents.
He said he was provided with a phone and a car, and would supply people after being sent texts telling him where to go.
“My debt increased. They started putting more pressure on me to work more time– and the more time I was doing, the more my habit was increasing, and the more my debt was increasing.”
He said he had been subjected to violence on four occasions, twice by being beaten up in a car, once in a house and once being stabbed in the cheek with scissors.
But questioned by Judge Andrew Lockhart QC, Wiltshire admitted that was because he had been stealing drugs from his ‘employers’ and using them himself.
The judge pointed out Wiltshire said he was getting ten £10 bags of drugs a day as his ‘wages,’ so would have received drugs with a street value of £18,000 over the six months.
Wiltshire said that after he was arrested and bailed, they believed he was lying and that he had stolen the drugs and money – and they kidnapped his dog, telling him he owed them £1500 and would ‘slice its neck’ over the canal if it was not paid.
His parents were returning from holiday that day, so he contacted them and his father withdrew the money and handed it over on the Abbey Fields car park in return for the dog, he added.
Explaining why the prosecution did not accept he had been acting under pressure to the extent he claimed, Mr Brook said: “For six months he has knowingly taken part in large-scale street dealing.
“He was doing that for his own financial gain, £100 worth of drugs a day, which is £18,000 over that six months.
“He was doing that not because he was in fear, because he wanted to and needed to feed his habit.
“Any violence meted out to him was because he had stolen the stock, and was fairly minor in the context of drug-dealing.”
And Judge Lockhart, rejecting Wiltshire’s account and ruling that he had played ‘a significant role,’ observed that there was no evidence of threats in any of the text messages.
William Douglas-Jones said Wiltshire was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he left the Navy, and his misuse of alcohol had spiralled into drug abuse.
Jailing Wiltshire, Judge Lockhart told him: “The simple fact is that for six months you were working in a drug supply network, supplying drugs to those on the street.
“You made a significant financial advantage. You were paid a living wage of many thousands of pounds over that period, not in cash, but by reason of not having to purchase those drugs.
“I accept there was a degree of pressure, but those who put themselves forward as drug dealers must expect that that type of thing can and will happen.”