A Salvation Army shop volunteer who acted as a ‘runner’ in a crack cocaine supply operation has avoided jail.
John Allum, who worked at the furniture shop and warehouse in Accrington, handed himself into police after using too much of the drug himself causing him to fall into a drug debt.
Burnley Crown Court heard how he had become ‘scared’ of a local drug dealer and when he turned up at a police station was ‘agitated and sweating profusely’.
Allum, 60, pleaded guilty to possessing crack cocaine with intent to supply and was given a 16-month jail sentence suspended for two years with a supervision requirement and 120 hours unpaid work.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told the court how Allum confessed his involvement to officers on November 11 last year and told them how he had been ‘threatened and felt he would be harmed’.
The court heard how he had been working for a local drug user who allowed him to use some of the drug as payment.
Mr Parker said: “He had used too much and now owed money which he couldn’t afford to repay.
“He got himself into a position he couldn’t see a way out of.”
While at the station Allum handed over 20 wraps of crack cocaine worth £400 and said he was ‘working as a runner for another person’.
Nick Dearing, defending, said Allum had no relevant previous convictions and it was his first offence in over 10 years.
He told the court how Allum, of Dover Street, Nelson, had ‘found himself spiralling deeper into the situation’ and had ‘taken positive steps to try and end it’.
He said: “There’s a clear element of remorse and cooperation.
“He’s gone many years without offending. He was not involved in any direct drug dealing.
“He is the architect of his own misfortune.”
Recorder Andrew McLoughlin said it was a ‘very unusual set of circumstances’.
Sentencing, he said: “You would’ve had no course for complaint if you received a lengthy custodial offence.
“The reason for that is you’ve allowed yourself to be a tool for people who peddle and sell drugs which regrettably creates a lot of crime.
“I will give you the opportunity by suspending the prison sentence.
“You are genuinely remorseful for what you’ve done.”