CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Addict is spared prison time in first conviction for dealing ‘spice’ in Camden Town

Man turned into "junky" by former legal high is one of the first to prosecuted under new law

29 March, 2017 — By William McLennan

The drug was outlawed in May last year 

A RECOVERING addict who was the first person to be convicted of dealing high-strength synthetic cannabis in Camden has avoided being sent to prison.

Fared Gohill, 45, arrived at Highbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning facing imprisonment for up to six months after pleading guilty to supplying the street drug, known as “spice”.

But magistrates instead handed him a three-month sentence, suspended for one year.

The court heard that Mr Gohill, who was homeless at the time, had been hooked on the drug and was sharing it with fellow addicts, rather than dealing for commercial gain, when he was arrested in Camden Street in July.

His was one of the first arrests for suppling spice in the country after its sale was outlawed in May.

The drug, which was widely used by homeless addicts in Camden Town, had been legally sold from souvenir shops in Camden High Street before the ban.

Speaking outside court, Mr Gohill, who has since got clean, said he wants to help others steer clear of spice.

He told the New Journal: “It’s a good thing I didn’t go inside. If you put me in a cell it would have ruined everything that I work towards, being drug-free and wanting to help people.

“All you’d do is take someone that’s done so good and put them back in somewhere that more than likely I could relapse and just waste everything. I would have gone in there, possibly relapsed or attempted suicide probably.”

Inmates reportedly have easy access to spice, which is difficult for sniffer dogs and drug tests to detect.

Describing the impacts of the drug, Mr Gohill said: “The state of me was ridiculous. I was smoking all day and all night. I couldn’t go to sleep without it.”

He said it was “hypocritical” that addicts who had once been able to buy the drug over the counter were being prosecuted instead.

“How can they sell it in a shop, create junkies and then all of a sudden they’ve got nothing to do with it and they want to nick you,” he said.

The court heard that CCTV showed Mr Gohill passing around “cigarettes laced with spice” and at one point being handed money by one user.

Defence solicitor Nony Umenyiora said: “While it is accepted there was some financial gain, it wasn’t a grand scale.”

She said that “there is a point on the CCTV that he does receive some cash” but said it was only £5, which a friend had owed him.

“He is someone that is just sharing with friends,” she said.

She told the court that Mr Gohill, who is due to have an operation on his back next month, first started to use the drug as a means of pain control.

She said: “He had the mistaken view that taking spice had managed his back problem but he now realises that this is not the best way forward.”

Mr Gohill, who is a grandfather, has six children, the court heard. Ms Umenyiora said that he had got clean “of his own accord” in August, adding: “He is very close to his family. That is what motivated him, essentially.”

Rod Barr, chair of magistrates, said it was a “serious offence,” adding: “We feel that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.” But, noting his efforts to get clean, he decided to suspend the sentence for one year.

He said: “It was dealing with a significant quantity of drugs in a public place. Although you have told us that the people you were supplying to were your acquaintances, of course that only goes part of the way to mitigating the circumstances.”

He told Mr Gohill that should he commit any offence in the next 12 months, he would “go straight to prison”.

Mr Gohill was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £200 in fines and costs.

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