Widow's fury at three-hour jail sentence

By Lisa CleverdonAN outraged widow has spoken of her disgust after learning a three-hour custodial sentence handed to the man responsible for supplying her husband with heroin will not be challenged by the Crown Prosecution Service.

By Lisa Cleverdon

AN outraged widow has spoken of her disgust after learning a three-hour custodial sentence handed to the man responsible for supplying her husband with heroin will not be challenged by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Maria Wheeler said she felt let down by the legal system, which she claimed had served an injustice to herself and her two young children who have been left without a father.

Kevin Wheeler, from Ingham, died on March 25 after he overdosed on the class A drug, a quantity of which had been given to him by David Byrne, 37, of Tayfen Road in Bury St Edmunds.

But after receiving a complaint from West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service said it did not believe Byrne's sentence could be successfully challenged.

Mrs Wheeler said last night she was deeply disappointed with the outcome, but vowed she would not give up her fight to see Byrne behind bars.

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“It is as if they are saying it is all right to deal drugs and I am so angry,” she said. “I am trying to teach my children right from wrong, but it is impossible.

“I was just starting to think that I might see some justice for my husband's death, but this has completely knocked me down again.

“It is hard to know what to do next and I know it will take time and hard work, but David Byrne can't get away with this and I will never give up.”

In a statement issued last night, the Crown Prosecution Service said the sentence handed to Byrne reflected the nature of the supply and the basis upon which the evidence had been reflected to the court.

“It is quite clear from the evidence that the deceased approached Byrne, who then facilitated the first supply of heroin for them both and the person who he, Byrne, used as his supplier,” it said.

“Despite witnessed warnings from Byrne, Mr Wheeler insisted on obtaining a further supply of the drug, which he obtained from the supplier.

“Byrne was interviewed by the police and accepted the first supply and was subsequently charged with an offence relating to that supply.”

The Crown Prosecution Service added the case would be reviewed as and when any additional evidence became available.

Mr Spring, who asked the Crown Prosecution Service and the chairman of the Suffolk Magistrates' Courts Committee to seek a judicial review of the case, said: “If the information I have been given with regards to this case is correct, then I cannot believe the Crown Prosecution Service is going to wash their hands of it.

“If there is no mechanism to revisit this, then it is a matter I will have to take up with Parliament as I find it absurd.

“It is hugely demoralising for the police officers to catch a drug dealer who is then only given a three-hour sentence and I think the public will feel deeply affronted if there is no action that can now be taken.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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