Methamphetamine  Judge watch  Judge Holt

[The number one drug for reptilian possession, so worst drug invented, so far.]]

Free to deal

A DRUG dealer was spared jail by a soft judge - even though he was caught with a massive stash worth 50,000.

Colin MacDonald, 34, appeared for sentencing before Judge Stephen Holt after cops who raided his home found:

90g of highly-addictive crystal meth rocks stuffed in a washbag;

90g of powdered cocaine;

100 ecstasy pills;

85g of amphetamines, and THREE bin bags stuffed with dried cannabis leaves.

Lenient ... Judge Holt

Police also discovered seven boxes of Viagra, a large quantity of powerful painkiller Tramadol, self-seal bags and two sets of scales. MacDonald admitted five counts of possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs at a magistrates' hearing. Yet Judge Holt gave him just a suspended 12-month jail term.

And MacDonald, of Dollis Hill, North London, walked free.

The case, which came to light a day after a panel of top judges recommended lenient sentences for dealers THEY regard as "small-time", caused dismay and anger among police. A source close to the case said: "MacDonald put his hands up early but no one was expecting him to walk out of court.

"This is the kind of sentencing that is hugely demoralising to police and other authorities trying to win the war on drugs." Outraged Tory MP Patrick Mercer said MacDonald's sentence "seems derisory". He added: "It sets a dangerous precedent for one of the biggest problems facing the police."

Judge Holt, sitting at Harrow Crown Court, called the MacDonald case "exceptional".

He said South African MacDonald had started taking drugs after a family tragedy, had admitted guilt, had been on a successful rehab course and just "sometimes sold drugs at cost price to other users".

But the source close to the case called the judge's reasoning "absurd," adding: "Investigators were in no doubt MacDonald was dealing in a significant way."

More fury erupted last night over the Sentencing Council's plans - revealed in yesterday's Sun - to spare hordes of "low-level" dealers jail. The judges' panel wants courts to focus on banging up drug producers and major suppliers.

They defined small-time dealers as those who have up to 49.9g of heroin or cocaine, even though that amount could be worth up to 2,000 and as little as 5g can kill.

"Minor" peddling was also said to involve less then 100 ecstasy pills, 250g of amphetamines, 49 tabs of LSD, 1kg of cannabis and 50g of the tranquilliser ketamine.

But The Sun is demanding resistance to such soft justice.

And last night Pauline Holcroft, mother of heroin victim Rachel Whitear, said: "It seems to me judges have lost touch with reality."


Stash ... crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy pills, amphetamines and cannabis
Stash ... crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy pills, amphetamines and cannabis

Care home manager Pauline, 61, released harrowing pictures of her 21-year-old daughter curled up dead on the floor of her flat in 2002, with a syringe in her hand.


Pauline has since campaigned to educate youngsters on the dangers of drugs - but fears her crusade could now be derailed.

The mum, of Ledbury, Herefordshire, said: "Surely letting dealers off with a community order sends out completely the wrong message.

"There is an awful lot of damage that can be done with 49.9g of heroin. Rachel died for a 10 fix."


Crystal meth horror ... user before and 2 years later
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"These people obviously have the drugs to sell them on. They are passing on misery to countless families."

Ex-gang member Darrell James blasted the soft approach as "ludicrous". Darrell, 38, who has served time in prison but since turned his back on crime, said: "It will see ten dealers on every street corner."

He added it would encourage Mr Bigs to recruit large teams of young runners, each pushing relatively small amounts of drugs.

Darrell, of Hackney, East London, said: "They will sell to customers for a small cut of profit. A top dealer will be able to recruit far more runners if he can assure them carrying up to 50g won't land them in jail."

Britain has gone much softer on dealers over the last decade.

In December 2001, 23-year-old Stephen Lane was jailed for 4 years at Gloucester Crown Court for possessing 7.34g of heroin.

The same year chef Daniel Trudgian, 22, was jailed for 18 months after he was caught with 25 ecstasy pills in Falmouth, Cornwall.

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Hooked on single fix

CRYSTAL meth is as deadly and addictive as crack - and users can get hooked from their first try.

It has wreaked havoc in the US. A dramatic poster campaign by police across America showed how the drug ravaged the faces of users.

Crystal meth is smoked, snorted or injected. Users experience a fast high and short-lived feeling of invincibility - often accompanied by hallucinations - followed by a devastating low where suicidal feelings surface.

Ravaged ... face of addict after just three months
Barcroft Media

They believe they look energetic and confident but their actions appear frenzied and psychotic.

Users suffer palpitations, restlessness, headaches, a dry mouth and incredibly itchy skin, which can be followed by heart attacks.

One addiction expert said: "If Satan himself had developed a drug, it would be crystal meth."