A NEW Milton man convicted of supplying drugs was spared an immediate jail term – despite confessing he “lied through his teeth” about the offence to a court.
Oliver Wells (32), who walked free from Bournemouth Crown Court, made the admission in a note to Judge Robert Pawson in which he also apologised for “wasting the court’s time”.
Having been stopped on the street by police last year Wells had two phones seized from him that were found to contain text messages related to drugs, the court heard. A subsequent search located drug-making paraphernalia at Wells’ home.
At the time he was on a suspended prison sentence for an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the court heard.
When Wells went to court over the drugs matters he admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis.
But his plea to the cocaine charge was on a basis not accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service. A special Newton hearing was held to determine the facts – during which Wells’ claims were rejected by the court.
When he returned for sentencing on Monday, Judge Pawson was handed a letter from Wells. He said that in it the defendant admitted he “lied through his teeth” at the Newton hearing and was sorry for “wasting the court’s time”.
The court heard that after the Newton hearing concluded last October Judge Pawson decided to defer handing down a sentence.
He set Wells five tasks: attend rehabilitation sessions, stay out of trouble, engage with help and the probation service, and be a good father to his children.
The latest hearing was told by Wells’ partner, Michaela Tate, that he had improved his behaviour so much the couple were back living together at the defendant’s Davis Field home.
Wells suffers chronic pain from serious injuries he suffered while playing football, the judge noted, and Ms Tate admitted her husband still took cannabis, but did so because of the pain.
“It’s still illegal, though,” the judge replied, with Ms Tate adding, “Yes, I know.”
In 2013 Wells was nearly paralysed when he suffered a shattered spinal disc during an innocuous tackle while playing for Ringwood Town Football Club.
Since the sentence had been deferred Wells attended rehabilitation sessions and was on the waiting list to see pain specialists Bath, Ms Tate added.
Defending, Robert Grey said his client was much more settled than previously as he was prepared to face his problems.
Judge Pawson said that had Wells not complied with the terms he set him when he deferred the sentence, the defendant would have been jailed for more than two years.
But Wells’ improved behaviour – the continued use of cannabis notwithstanding – had persuaded him he did not have to cage the defendant.
“You have remained crime free,” Judge Pawson said. “You haven’t been rearrested or charged, but you are still using cannabis, although I do accept that is not for recreational use.
“That is not to say that this court condones it for a moment; I understand, though, it’s an attempt to ameliorate daily pain that you have to cope with.”
He also decided against activating the suspended sentence for the assault, instead fining Wells £250 and ordering he do 50 rehabilitation activity sessions as part of a three-year community order.
But Judge Pawson warned: “If you reoffend or breach the terms of this community order you will be brought back to court and the sentence you will get will be more than three years in jail.
“I’m not threatening you, I’m explaining it so you understand. With the best will in the world I don’t want to see you again and you don’t want to see me again.”