'You need help' - mothers caught dealing to fund their own addictions spared jail
PUBLISHED: 16:03 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:39 23 August 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Two mothers caught dealing crack and heroin to fund their own addictions have been spared jail after a judge told them they need help.
Michelle Wright, 36, was pulled over by police who were "concerned about her driving" on October 17 last year, Norwich Crown Court heard on Thursday.
They found heroin, crack and methadone in a bag she had with her.
And Sheridan Macksoud, 47, was seen to "enter into a transaction" with a drug user on Aylsham Road in Norwich on December 13.
Macksoud was found with £40 while the drug user had five wraps of heroin and crack.
Both women admitted dealing Class A drugs at the first opportunity.
But after hearing they are both mothers and carers who were taking steps to battle their addictions, Judge Andrew Shaw spared both of them jail.
"I will give in this court an opportunity to those who I think deserve it," he said. "It is one chance, and one chance only."
Norwich Crown Court heard Wright, originally from Glasgow, had developed a heroin addiction after falling into a "violent" relationship with a much older man when she was 13-years-old.
Since the birth of her two daughters she had "managed" the habit with methadone, but after her mother-in-law had a stroke last year she relapsed, the court heard.
Mitigating for Wright, Mark McDonald said: "She is a mother of two children aged 12 and 14, but is particularly a carer for the 14-year-old who has profound autism and ADHD."
Wright escaped the abusive relationship when she moved to Wisbech and is now married for 17 years.
"Since the age of 14 or 15 she has been addicted to heroin," added Mr McDonald.
"That has been controlled since the birth of her children with methadone."
But after her mother-in-law had a stroke, "everything got on top of her" and she relapsed into heroin.
She began selling to people she knew, keeping one wrap of every three she sold.
"She has been unable to tell her child she might not be coming back today," Mr McDonald said.
"She has told the child she is having an operation.
"She says she can cope in prison but her daughter needs her."
Judge Shaw said sentencing guidelines for her dealing meant between three and a half and seven years in prison for Wright.
"Were I to slavishly follow the guidelines I could not arrive at a sentence capable of being suspended," he said.
"If I wish to depart from them I may do so. The reasons are you are extremely vulnerable woman, lightly convicted with a great deal on your plate.
"You are someone who needs help."
John Morgans, mitigating for Macksoud, said she is somebody who has "struggled with addiction".
"To have played a role in the supply [of drugs] she is ashamed because she knows the misery that goes with these substances," he said.
"Through her addiction she has been exploited. She is told she owes money by people who have control over her. The way for her to pay this debt is to go out and deal.
"She has now ended a relationship which was directly abusive and found new relationships with professionals and her family."
Judge Shaw told Macksoud: "You succumbed to coercion and pressure to sell drugs.
"I am sure you know it is extremely serious. In almost every case it relates to an immediate sentence of imprisonment.
"Controlled drugs ruin people's lives, just as they have ruined your life to a degree.
"You are someone struggling with an addiction, and those who are susceptible to treatment should be given an opportunity by the courts to get the help they need.
"You are someone the court could and should offer help."
Wright, of Seabank Road, Wisbech, was given a three year community order, with 40 rehabilitation days and 12 months of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Macksoud, of Hope House, Norwich, was given an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 30 days of rehabilitation and 12 months of drug rehabilitation.
She was also given a three month curfew from 8pm to 8am.