A hapless drug user tried to illegally import almost 1,000 tranquillisers by post from Pakistan – but was arrested after he used his own name and address.
The authorities were led straight to Sean Shirvani in Hartlepool after the parcel of 990 temazepam tablets he ordered was intercepted at a Royal Mail sorting office in Berkshire.
Shirvani, 35, claimed he did not know it was against the law to bring the tablets into the UK and that they were for his own use.
But he was found guilty of importing the class C drug after a jury trial last month.
The judge said he was sure some of the pills, which are addictive and can only be prescribed by a doctor, would have been sold to others.
Prosecutor Ian West said: “We say the quantity and sort are those that would be held for supply to retail customers.
“In terms of his role, he is buying on a commercial scale with close links to the original source being Pakistan with an expectation potentially of substantial financial gain.”
Shirvani arrived at Teesside Crown Court for sentence yesterday expecting to be sent to jail, taking a carrier bag of belongings into the dock.
But he was spared immediate prison and instead given a suspended sentence.
Judge Howard Crowson told Shirvani: “I form the view whilst clearly you were a user of this sort of drug, self-medicating might be the best way to describe it, it seemed to me inevitable you had to sell some to fund it and hope it would be a self-funding operation.”
He added: “But it wasn’t a sophisticated plan, you used your own name and address, had the things posted to you and were merely intercepted by the appropriate agency.”
Shirvani also had 13 diazepam tablets on him when he was arrested by police in August last year.
He pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possession of a class C drug.
Tony Cornberg, mitigating, said there had been no evidence Shirvani had been dealing the pills and he has since become self-employed selling items on the internet.
Mr Cornberg said: “He has now stopped taking the tablets that he had imported. He still suffers from depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
“The birth of his five-month-old daughter has had a positive effect on him.”
Shirvani, of Cameron Road, Hartlepool, was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with 12 months of probation supervision.
He must also do 100 hours of community service and pay a £100 surcharge. Judge Crowson ordered that the drugs be destroyed.