A businessman registered EIGHT internet companies from his Broadstairs home - in a "cat and mouse" drugs game over legal highs.
Jeremy Detheridge, 26, imported chemicals from China disguised as lawn feed-based products that he traded online.
But Canterbury Crown Court said in April 2010 new regulations were introduced to outlaw some of the drugs.
And in what is believed to be one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the UK, Detheridge, now of Devonshire Gardens, Ramsgate, pleaded guilty to five charges of possessing and importing half a kilo of illegal class B and C drugs. He will be sentenced next week.
Donal Lawler, defending, said the IT consultant admitted he had been playing "cat and mouse" with drug enforcement officers to bring in drugs that were still legal.
But Judge Adele Williams said the "mischief" in the clandestine importations was that Detheridge had no idea what the powders contained.
"He didn't know what effect they could have on the people he was supplying them to," he said. "They could have been substances which turned out to be lethal. He didn't know."
Paul Tapsell, prosecuting, told how on April 19, 2010 two packages were intercepted at Stansted airport from a "Jack Ma, China" and addressed to David Saunders in Botany Road, Broadstairs.
Forensic experts tested the powder and discovered they contained a substance used to treat neurodegerative disorders along with an illegal cass C substance.
Three days later, another package arrived at Heathrow from "Shanghai Yiyi Maoyi Co, China" and addressed to David Saunders - this time with Titanium Dioxide inside.
In May, another package was tested and it contained a class B drug.
Customs officers began investigating Detheridge and discovered a company called "Naturally Perfected" based at Broadstairs - with a contact address at a Ramsgate pub.
Police then raided the house in Botany Road, Broadstairs - seizing books on legal highs, including instructions for manufacturing various drugs, scales, measuring spoons and a computer.
And as officers were still carrying out their raid - ANOTHER package arrived by courier for Detheridge.
That led officers to websites for Perfectpowder.co.uk and happyKat.co.uk - but both carried a notice that orders weren't being taken as "they were away at Glastonbury". They were two of eight companies that he had registered online.
The court heard that the value of the drugs was £40,000 - and Detheridge claimed that "he didn't know how the products he sold were used, but assumed his customers already knew", the prosecutor said.
Mr Lawler told the court: "He thought he was winning the cat and mouse game and staying on the right side of the law.
"He is not a cynical or callous businessman - whatever the dubious moral arguments are over the supply of legal highs - selling them regardless of the consequences. He took them himself at the time. Although he has now stopped.
"He realises that he flew too close to the sun and got burned. He is a man who accepts he strayed but there was no malicious intent."
A second man, David Truelove, 40, of Rumsfields Road, Broadstairs admitted two charges of possessing cannabis. He will also be sentenced next week.
by Paul Hooper
Thursday, February 09 2012
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