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Former Bridgnorth student to face years in jail as judge rejects drugs 'story'

By Rob Smith | Bridgnorth | News | Published:

A student who was caught with more than £1,000 worth of six different types of drug faces years in prison after a judge rejected his claim that he had been given them for safekeeping by his dealer.

Shrewsbury Crown Court

Paul Christopher Jennings, 21, will be sentenced for possessing ecstacy, diazepam, Xanax, cocaine, diclazepam and ketamine with intent to supply them, after his mother found them in a backpack along with scales and bags at their home in Bridgnorth last June.

Prosecuting barrister Mr Marc Davies said that his mother became concerned after finding cling film containing powders and tablets.

Jennings had not long returned from Brighton, where he studied war, conflict and modernity.

He told a trial of issue at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Friday that a pre-existing cocaine habit had developed into an addiction while he was at university, and that he had come to owe a dealer £400.

Under cross-examination from his representative, barrister Mr Danny Smith, Jennings claimed that in lieu of paying off his debt the dealer had told him to take the drugs and paraphernalia home with him for the summer.

Jennings also said that the dealer knew where his family lived in Bridgnorth, and that he wouldn't identify him out of fear.

He said that the two had once been friendly, but once the debt was accrued he began to fear what would happen to him.

He said: "He never directly made reference to physical harm but [from] the manner in which he and his associates spoke and behaved, it was perfectly clear they were prepared to commit acts of violence.

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"I knew the risks but I was also aware I was a good customer.

"Towards the final days of the term I was approached and asked about the debt. I said I would pay it back when I could."

Rejected

He said the dealer suggested holding the drugs and paraphernalia over the summer as another way to pay back the debt, and Jennings said he saw the offer as an opportunity to "eradicate the debt and try to remove myself from the situation".

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Jennings claimed that the dealer had told him not to touch the drugs, and that he intended to give them back when he returned to Brighton in the autumn.

He said that he assumed the dealer, who he guessed was a fellow student, wanted to go home for the summer without evidence of dealing.

But Recorder Duncan Smith rejected his account "out of hand", and said he considered it nothing more than a "story".

He said he was sceptical of Jennings' claim that there had been no specific conversation between him and the dealer about when the drugs would be returned.

He said: "I don't find it credible that a drug supplier would take a summer off and entrust such a large amount of drugs to a drug user.

"I find it difficult to accept that Paul Jennings confided in this person where he lived, but never got to know where his supplier lived.

"I find it incredible that no arrangements were made for the safe return of these drugs."

Guilty

Dismissing his account, Recorder Smith found Jennings guilty of six counts of possessing drugs with intent to supply, two in class A, one in class B and three in class C.

He warned him that he will go to prison, and told him: "The starting point for someone in your position is something in the region of four and a half years.

"I don't take any pleasure in sending young men in good backgrounds to prison but if you leave me no choice that is what I will have to do.

"It's time to take your head out of the sand and face up to reality."

Jennings, of Isfield Road in Brighton, will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on June 28, after a pre-sentence report is completed.

The court heard that Jennings' family has since moved to Ireland.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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