Woman jailed for selling pills to ‘well loved lad’ who died after taking cocktail of drugs

Christopher Vanes
Christopher Vanes

A PILL pedlar who supplied a tragic dad with a drug which contributed to his death has been jailed.

Leeann Douglass, 25, was jailed for 22 months at Teesside Crown Court for selling Christopher Vanes 20 diazepam tablets.

Christopher Vanes

Christopher Vanes

The tranquilisers were found to be one of a cocktail of drugs he had taken before he died at the age of just 29.

His sister Joanne Vanes today paid tribute to him as “a well loved lad” who lived for his three children.

She hopes Christopher’s tragic death will serve as a warning to others thinking about taking the drug.

Christopher was found dead in his flat on April 3 last year.

Tests found he died from heart failure as a result of taking a mixture of three drugs, including heroin and the anti-depressant mirtazapine.

Joanne said his death was especially tragic as Christopher had won an award for a rehabilitation course he had attended through the organisation Lifeline, where he learned to read and write for the first time.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting at court, said Christopher was found dead at his flat on The Front, Seaton Carew on April 3 last year.

Police discovered he had bought 20 tablets from Douglass that day, and Douglass said on Facebook she had sold them to him.

Miss Masters said the diazepam may have added to the toxicity of the drugs in his system.

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.

Douglass, of Wynyard Mews, Hartlepool, 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 was jailed immediately for 22 months while Arnold, of Furness Street, Hartlepool, was given four months suspended for two years.

Joanne stressed Christopher was not addicted to hard drugs.

He had battled back from addiction to painkillers after getting hooked when he had toothache.

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

She said: “He was a well loved young lad, that’s why his death has been so hard for his family.

“He loved his children and lived for them. He just lost his way in life.”

Joanne welcomed yesterday’s court sentence adding: “I’m happy with the outcome.

“The coroner said no-one ever gets punished, and it is so sad so I hope she serves as an example.

“And if it raises awareness of what can come of using diazepam, I have done my work.

“Christopher had such a small intake, it doesn’t take much.”

Douglass 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.

Arnold admitted a single charge of possessing 1,582 diazepam with intent to supply on August 27.