A RECOVERING drug addict who gave heroin to his sister walked free from court after saying he plans to rejoin the Army.
Siblings Christopher and Andrea Atkinson stood nervously side by side in Teesside Crown Court to face drug charges.
They were hauled before a judge after their grandmother’s home was raided on January 27 and Andrea Atkinson was found inside along with eight wraps of heroin and a tray with a razor blade and plastic card.
The 32-year-old was arrested on the spot and her brother was then taken in for questioning on June 9 as his fingerprints were found on the confiscated items.
Christopher Atkinson, 31, admitted supplying a class A drug by giving the heroin to his sister.
She pleaded guilty to possessing heroin.
Judge Peter Bowers went against his “reputation for locking up drug dealers” and let Christopher Atkinson walk out of court with a two-year conditional discharge.
The judge heard the former Royal Artillery soldier, who lives in Tennyson Avenue, Hartlepool, had stopped using drugs and had an appointment with the Army to discuss rejoining.
His sister, who lives in Grange Road, Hartlepool, was given an 18-month community order with a three-month curfew.
Judge Bowers said: “I’m sure I have a reputation for locking up drug dealers, and I’m prepared to accept that.
“But this is thoroughly exceptional. You Christopher have sorted your life out.
“But any breaches of this order will come back to me. And if I see you in the crown court again you will get a prison sentence.
“Hopefully by doing this it will help you get into the Army, if that is what you want to do.”
Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said police raided their grandmother’s home in High Street, on Hartlepool’s Headland, and found Andrea “intoxicated”.
She added: “Andrea was fidgeting and police found eight wraps of heroin next to her.
“Police looked around the property and found a tray with a razor blade, a top-up card and plastic bags.
“Andrea was interviewed and said she was holding it for someone else.
“It was all sent off to be examined and Christopher’s prints were found on some of the wraps.”
Joseph Spencer, mitigating for Christopher Atkinson, said his client is now free from drugs and the dad-of-two was trying to get his life in order.
He added: “There’s a part of his life where he was in the Army, and it was when he left that he started using.
“He became depressed and turned to heroin and his convictions then became more and more serious.”
Jim Withyman, mitigating for Andrea Atkinson, said: “She is in a hostel where she has received help for a drink problem and is having counselling.”