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Hythe drug-dealing couple Martin Girard and Claire Matthews spared prison

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A DRUG dealing couple were caught with almost £7,000 of illegal substances when their Hythe home was raided by police, a court heard.

But Martin Girard (38) and a tearful Claire Matthews (34) were both spared immediate prison terms when they appeared at Southampton Crown Court.

Prosecutor Natasha Dardashi said the pair’s Knightstone Grange property was raided by officers four days before Christmas 2019, uncovering drugs and drug-making gear.

Claire Matthews and Martin Girard (picture: Facebook)
Claire Matthews and Martin Girard (picture: Facebook)

Three phones were seized with contents indicating that Girard dealt drugs, including cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, to a client list of more than 70 people.

Messages also showed Matthews was involved in dealing, Ms Dardashi added.

Police also found a carrier bag in a living room cupboard which contained 384g of amphetamine – a class B drug – with a street value of £6,700.

A small amount of cannabis with a street value of £80 was also discovered along with £901 in cash.

Both defendants eventually admitted drug-related charges on the basis they dealt to a small circle of friends.

Girard, a window cleaner, said he had made a modest profit from the dealing. He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drug cocaine, and class B substances amphetamine and cannabis.

Matthews admitted being concerned in the supply of class B substances but Judge Gary Burrell accepted she played a lesser role.

Defending Girard, Chris Gaiger stressed his client had turned his life around and weaned himself off drugs since the incident which had been "hanging over his head" for two years.

That point was stressed by Gaylen Coles, representing Matthews, who highlighted the couple had a five-year-old daughter and wanted to be able to care for her.

A letter from Matthews to the judge, read out in court, said: "I understand I got myself into things I should not have and I will live with the shame of it for ever more."

Ms Coles said Matthews "turned a blind eye" to what had been going on, adding that her mother died suddenly aged just 51 last year – which had taught her life should not be wasted.

Judge Burrell decided not to send Mathews down, instead handing her a 12-month community order with 15 rehabilitation days. He also told her to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Girard pleaded from the dock to be given another chance, admitting he had dealt "nasty stuff" but was now clean and wanted to provide legitimately for his family.

Judge Burrell handed him a two-year jail term but suspended it for two years. He also imposed 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation days.

"Get your priorities organised," the judge told him. "This is probably the last chance you will get.

"You know now you have got to put something back to make up for what you did, so put that all behind you and get on with leading a decent life."

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