A drug addict who was caught supplying crack cocaine and heroin in a back street by undercover police officers has been jailed.
Richard Whittaker was stopped by plain-clothed officers shortly after completing a deal and told them: “Just a typical Thursday afternoon. Being stopped by the police. I thought you were coming to buy off me.”
The 43-year-old was found with £330 worth of class A drugs split into £10 street deals, a ‘crumpled £20 note in his hand’ and a mobile phone containing drug-related messages, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Judge Simon Medland QC said Whittaker knew ‘better than anybody’ the damage drugs can do after losing his partner to heroin in 2015.
Whittaker, of Spindle Berry Court, Accrington, pleaded guilty to possessing crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply and was jailed for 32 months.
Prosecutor Stephen Parker told the court how plain clothed officers in unmarked police vehicles from the Targeted Crime Team were on duty in Accrington in the area between Wilfred Street and Belfield Road.
They saw ‘suspicious activity’ in a back street on May 4 last year and arrested Whittaker at around 2pm.
When he was arrested some of the drugs fell on the floor and he told the officers that he had two wraps still on him and there were 28 that had dropped to the floor.
Mr Parker said the defendant told officers at the scene: “Just a typical Thursday afternoon. Being stopped by the police. I thought you were coming to buy off me.”
When he was formally interviewed at the police station, he claimed the comments were ‘made in jest’ and denied being responsible for any class A drugs supply.
Mr Parker said the police officer who analysed his phone determined that Whittaker was a ‘user dealer’ to fund his own habit and was working ‘on behalf of somebody else’.
Sentencing, Judge Medland said: “You perhaps better than anybody in this room today know that drugs, especially class A drugs, ruin people’s lives. They bring misery and corrosive disruption to communities.
“They promote organised crime, they ruin people’s health and you very sadly know all too directly they bring people’s lives to an early and tragic end.
“In order to support your own habit you were selling drugs on the street and thereby you were perpetuating that misery that other people had.”
Defence barrister Neil Howard said Whittaker ‘more than anyone can appreciate the corrosive damage these drugs do to communities, families and individuals’.
He told the court: “The loss of his partner in 2015 was very tragic. They shared heroin that night, he woke up and found she had died.
“It’s perhaps unfortunate that there was not stronger motivation at that stage for him to amend his ways. Clearly he doesn’t.
“He does have some remorse. He was desperate at that time. It’s clear he had an operational involvement on that day.”
Mr Howard said former catering industry worker Whittaker has now lost his home but has a ‘very supportive family’.
The court heard that Whittaker has had a ‘positive change of thought’ since being remanded into custody and has voluntarily placed himself on a rehabilitation wing.
Mr Howard said Whittaker ‘quite unusually’ does not want to be released from prison and was told by the defendant that ‘custody is saving my life’.
He said: “[Whittaker] wishes to continue in custody to rid himself of the addiction he has had for 20 years.”