A drug dealer’s dog which faced a death sentence when he was jailed won support from Teesside’s top judge who said that he hoped it could be re-homed.
Michael Neave, 50, has had the elderly springer spaniel since it was a puppy and he described it as the only friend he has in the world.
But knowing that he was going to prison for possession of heroin with intent to supply he tried without success to find it a new home.
Neave’s lawyer said he and his pet lived in a “hovel” in Hartlepool and he had burst into tears when he arrived at Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced.
Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said loner Neave had 42 convictions for 143 offences, starting when he was 12.
A police raid on his home, on November 12, 2015, found 30 packages of heroin worth £586 in the front bedroom, cannabis worth £30, and £157 in cash and an incriminating text message he had received on one of his two mobile phones.
Andrew Teate, defending, said Neave’s last conviction was in 2008, but he started using drugs again after his father died.
He said according to a medical report Neave was unable to work because of rheumatoid arthritis which had left his fingers folded over.
Neave had been told that the treatment would involve having his fingers surgically broken and then re-set.
Mr Teate added: “He sys that his father died in close proximity to these offences and he relapsed into the use of heroin.
“Because of the rheumatoid arthritis he is unable to work or to perform any task. He said that he would have supplied heroin to any friends and associates to fund his own use of the substance. He lives in a small location which perhaps would be best described as a hovel.” Mr Teate said: “He was tearful this morning when he talked about his dog, which is of some age, and he has been unable to find anyone to look after it when he is in prison. There is but one option for that dog, which is that it would be put down.”
The judge said that Neave had convictions for 28 drug offences and he was given a three-year jail sentence in 2008.
Neave, of Harrow Street, Hartlepool, was jailed for two and a half years after admitting to possession of heroin with intent to supply, and possession of cannabis.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC said: “I hope that you have success in re-homing your dog”, and Neave replied: “Than you Your Honour, we will sort him out.”