Former fireman who pushed cocaine spared jail

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A former Marlborough fireman who turned to dealing super strength cocaine to fund his own drug addiction has been spared jail.

Benjamin Collins was found with thousands of pounds worth of the hard drug as well a vast amount of cannabis when police raided his home.

But after hearing how the 33-year-old's life took a downward spiral after he was first injured and then suspended from work a judge imposed a suspended sentence.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how police launched a dawn raid at his home on Baylie Acre on Friday August 19 last year.

Once inside he said Collins led them to his bedroom where under his bed he had a container with cocaine in it and also handed over some cannabis.

He was found to have 60.7 grams of cocaine at 95 per cent purity, street deals can often as low as 10 per cent, which could have a value of more than £6,000.

The court was told that the cannabis weighed about 700 grams and was worth about £7,000 if sold in small street deals.

Officers also seized his mobile phone which was littered with messages which showed he had been dealing drugs.

Collins, now of Cherry Orchard, Marlborough, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply.

Peter Binder, defending, said that while his client had been a cocaine dealer the cannabis was a one-off after he had been offered a kilo at a knock down price.

He said he had become an addict and started selling the class A drug to fund his own use as he could buy much cheaper in bulk.

On an average week he would sell about 20 deals at £100 a gram, but never made any real profit because of his own use.

He said that after his father's career in the fire service he always wanted to join up and served in Marlborough.

In 2012, though, he said he hurt his back when he fell from a ladder at a fire which left him off work for a long time and needing an operation.

Once he had returned he said there was incident where an 'expert on safeguarding issues' was subject of a 'sexist prank'.

Mr Binder said that his client was suspended for 11 months before an inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.

But during that time he said he spent a lot of time in pubs and after falling with drug users became an addict.

He said his client, who has a young child, has also been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and needs help for his mental health

Passing sentence Judge Tim Mousley QC said "You fall to be sentenced today for dealing drugs in the Marlborough area, predominantly class A but also some class B.

"I am told you were supplying friends and fellow users. My feeling is people would come to you to buy their drugs rather than you going out in the streets to sell them.

"That means of course you were dealing in rather greater quantities than if you were on the streets.

"You are 33, have no convictions and for many years it seems you led a decent and stable life. You lost your job, you turned to drugs.

"Quite how you made that change seems a bit of a mystery to me. I hear what Mr Binder says.

"Once you made that choice your life spiralled downwards and the depravity of you taking drugs has led to your appearing in the criminal courts for the first time.

"I suspect when you look back on the past four or five years you have got very little to be proud of. Maybe getting caught had helped you and brought you to your senses. I hope that is right."

He imposed a two year jail term suspended for 24 months with 250 hours of unpaid work and 40 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

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