A JUDGE sparked fury yesterday after sparing a teenage drug dealer a prison sentence – on condition he meets him for a chat every month.
Judge Philip Statman handed down the highly unusual sentence after being told the 16-year-old had promised to turn over a new leaf.
The youth had been caught with 50 “wraps” of crack and heroin during a police raid on a house.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had faced a lengthy sentence after admitting possession of both class A drugs with intent to supply in Maidstone, Kent.
But Judge Statman ordered him to do 100 hours community service and complete a two-year supervision programme, with the talks included in the scheme.
Last night Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe, Maidstone MP and a former Tory prisons minister, accused the judge of passing a lenient sentence.
She said: “The only way to be certain he won’t continue to deal in drugs is to have him in some form of detention.
“I’m not against things like this in general but I don’t think it is appropriate with someone who has gone so far and got involved so seriously.” A police source added: “This seems highly unusual to many of us and I would ask, what message does it send out?
“Drugs, especially hard drugs like crack and heroin, are blighting communities up and down the country and Maidstone is no exception.
“Most of us here personally feel that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, who is caught with such large quantities and convicted of possession with intent to supply should be taken off the streets. This decision might be hailed as ‘forward thinking’ or ‘preventative’.
“But many people would say it will suggest to young people that it’s worth taking your chances selling class A drugs because there’s a fair chance you’ll avoid being locked up.”
During the hearing this week, the judge spoke at length of the need to keep Maidstone drug-free.
He also warned the teenager that if he had been 18 years old he would have been sent to jail for more than two and a half years.
But Judge Statman decided on the community sentence with the meetings to be held in judge’s chambers at Maidstone Crown Court.
The defendant, who lives in London, was also given a curfew, electronically tagged and banned from Kent for the next six months – except to attend his appointments with the judge.
Judge Statman handed down a 10-month sentence – later reduced to six – to disgraced actor Chris Langham after he was convicted of downloading child porn images two years ago.
But a court source said: “Judge Statman is certainly not a soft touch – in fact he’s well known in here for his no-nonsense approach.
“But it seems something in this lad’s case tugged on his heart-strings and he’s determined to do all he can to get the boy back on the right track.”
By Cyril Dixon
Source - http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/102814/Judge-spares-drug-dealer-prison-for-a-friendly-chat