Drug dealer, 84, escapes jail

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A DRUG-dealer has escaped a jail sentence - because he is 84 years old.

A judge told John Unsworth: “You should be going to prison today, that is my view. However, because of your age and your state of health I am going to step back.”

Disabled Unsworth, who walks with a stick, was caught in a car with eight bags of cocaine. He was arrested after a community support officer saw two known drug users getting out of the vehicle.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the drugs only weighed just over a gram but Judge John Phipps pointed out that when Unsworth was 76 he was convicted of similar offences involving heroin for which he received a suspended prison sentence. “I find that unimpressive,” he said.

He ordered that widower Unsworth wear an electronic tag for the next six months to monitor a 9pm to 7am curfew and attend a 10-day specified activities probation course.

Judge Phipps also confiscated Unsworth’s red MG car and awarded it to Greater Manchester Police.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said that the PCSO saw two drug users getting out of Unsworth’s car in Samuel Street, Atherton, at 10.10pm on July 2 last year.

He alerted the police and when officers stopped the vehicle in Shakerley Road, Tyldesley 40 minutes later he was found to have eight wraps of 85 per cent pure cocaine with a total street value of £80.

“He said, ‘it’s a fair catch’,” said Mr Pepper. When interviewed he denied drug dealing.

Unsworth, of Hough Lane, Tyldesley, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply on the basis he had intended sharing the drug with two friends after they had pooled their money to buy it.

Amos Waldman, defending, said: “He acted extremely foolishly.” He had not made any commercial gain from the drugs, which he bought after a friend suggested they might alleviate his depression following the death of his wife and step-daughter.

He had agreed to supply two friends with cocaine after they pooled their money but it was not a commercial operation, he said.

“A custodial sentence at his age and condition would have a considerable impact on his health,” said Mr Waldman.

The court heard that Unsworth is currently awaiting surgery.