Pill pedlar who gave drugs to Hartlepool dad on day he died has prison sentence reduced

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court

A PILL pedlar who was jailed for supplying drugs to a dad-of-three on the day he died of heart failure has had her sentence reduced.

Hartlepool woman Leeann Douglass was sentenced to 22 months in jail at Teesside Crown Court after admitting several drugs charges and assaulting a police officer.

But after an unusual move by Judge Peter Armstrong, the 25-year-old’s sentence has been axed by four months. She will now serve 18 months imprisonment for the crimes.

Judge Armstrong cut the jail term after saying that he had reflected on the “totality” of the sentence.

He said there were aggravating factors such as the fact Douglass was on bail and she had breached a suspended sentence.

But the consecutive elements to the overall sentence meant that, in his view, it had the effect of sentencing Douglass twice.

Judge Armstrong, who said that it was the defendant’s first time behind bars, believed the term was too high.

He added: “My statutory duty is to pass the least sentence commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.”

Douglass, of Wynyard Mews, Hartlepool – who was not present when her sentence was amended – sold 20 diazepam tablets to town man Christopher Vanes on the day he died of heart failure in his flat on The Front, Seaton Carew, on April 3 last year.

The tranquilisers were found to be one of a cocktail of drugs he had taken before he died at the age of just 29. Tests found he had also taken heroin and the anti-depressant mirtazapine.

The court previously heard that police discovered he had bought 20 tablets from Douglass that day, and Douglass said on Facebook she had sold them to him.

After being released on bail, police caught Douglass with 296 of the pills at her home along with some skunk cannabis in May.

Mobile phones seized contained text messages that showed she was involved in dealing.

She was re-bailed but another search of her home on August 27 found her with a tub containing 1,582 diazepam pills.

Her then boyfriend Benjamin Arnold, 28, had tried to throw them out of a window when police arrived.

Douglass was abusive, and bit a police officer while she was being arrested.

She pleaded guilty to one count of supplying a class C drug, three of possessing diazepam with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of diazepam between March 25 and May 6 last year, and was given the original 22-month sentence, while Arnold, of Furness Street, Hartlepool, was given four months suspended for two years.

An inquest revealed Mr Vanes died as a result of non-dependent use of drugs.