'Fantastic': Drug-dealer, 17, praised for turning his life around

Lisa Bastiani will have to wait until December next year for her trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich Crown Court heard how the 17-year-old had managed to escape a cycle of drug-dealing - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A Colchester teenager who became involved in drug-dealing when he was 15 has been praised by a judge for turning his life around.

Sentencing the 17-year-old youth, Judge Rupert Overbury described the efforts he had make to escape the cycle of drug-dealing he’d got into as “fantastic”.

“Every so often, someone your age who takes the wrong turn when he is 15 and 16 actually changes because he wants to,” said the judge.

“It’s fantastic. I’m so pleased for you,” he added.

He said the efforts made by the teenager, who now had stable accommodation, work and a pregnant partner, allowed him to take the  exceptional course of not sending him straight into custody.

He said the teenager had also spent a long time on tagged curfew while living in local authority accommodation and had behaved himself throughout.

“You’ve knuckled down and made improvements to your behaviour and lifestyle.

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"You should be proud of yourself. Please don’t let me down,” he added.

The youth, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted three offences of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply in August and September 2018 and May 2019.

He was given a six-month youth rehabilitation order, six months supervision, 40 hours unpaid work and a 12-month criminal behaviour order, which bans him from having more than one mobile phone and SIM card and having more than £200 cash in his possession without explaining where the money had come from.

Benedict Peers, prosecuting, said on one occasion the youth was stopped and searched by police and had ten wraps of crack cocaine and six of heroin with a street value of £160.

On another occasion, he was found with nine wraps of crack cocaine and one of heroin and a phone containing drug dealing messages.

The third offence related to a car in which the youth was a passenger which was stopped by police just outside Ipswich.

Drugs including cocaine and heroin worth £1,970 were found on the ground near the car and were found to have the defendant’s fingerprints on them.