A teen, who arranged drug deals for his friends through social media apps, has avoided jail due to his "exceptional" efforts to turn his life around since being arrested.
Michael Sean Gabb (18) yesterday appeared before the Royal Court to be sentenced for seven drugs-related offences, including two counts of importing herbal cannabis, three counts of possession with intent to supply MDMA, and two counts of supplying cannabis and MDMA.
Gabb admitted the offences by pleading ‘guilty’ when he was formally charged with the offences earlier this year.
In handing him a community service sentence, the Deputy Bailiff remarked upon his exceptional efforts to reform his ways following his arrest last year.
After referring himself to the Alcohol and Drug Service via his doctor, Gabb has come off drugs, despite being a user of cannabis since he was just 14 years old.
Pictured: Some of the drugs that were seized from Gabb (Jersey Customs and Immigration Service).
These matters, Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae remarked, formed a “very strong feature” in support of the defendant at sentencing.
Prosecuting, Crown Advocate Richard Pedley explained that the authorities became aware of Gabb’s drug dealing after a parcel addressed to the defendant was intercepted by Jersey’s Customs and Immigration Service (JCIS) on 18 October 2019.
It contained just over 55g of herbal cannabis.
This prompted a search of the defendant’s home address that showed Gabb had received another delivery just three days prior (on 15 October) which the teen admitted in interview contained “one ounce of herbal cannabis.”
A search of a shed at his home address and the contents of his backpack uncovered further drugs and drug paraphernalia. Including the drugs contained in the intercepted parcel, in total Customs Officers seized:
The Court was told that an examination of the defendant’s phone revealed “evidence of drug use, drug supply and sourcing drugs via the post, including tracking numbers for the two postal deliveries.”
The prosecutor explained that Gabb “had been advertising his drugs through apps such as Snapchat and Wickr.” In total, the investigation of the phone revealed 106 pages of text messages with references to selling drugs.
It emerged during the hearing that Gabb supplied himself and a small group of friends with the drugs.
Photos of drugs and stacks of cash – estimated by the Crown to be between £10,000 to £15,000 – were also found on the phone, which the prosecutor said “highlight[s] the extent of his supplying and drug-related activity.”
After being assessed by the Official States Analyst, the drugs were said to have a value between £8,370 and £11,070.
Remarking that Gabb has “exceptional” points in his favour given the positive steps he’s taken to get a handle on his drug use since being arrested, Crown Advocate Pedley commented: “From the moment of his arrest, it’s hard to see how he could have done very much more to change his life and turn his life around.”
Pictured: Gabb ultimately received a non-custodial sentence.
Whilst the teenager could have been facing up to two-and-a-half years in prison, the prosecutor rather invited the Court “by a narrow margin” to impose a non-custodial sentence consisting of a lengthy probation and community service order.
Advocate Julian Gollop, representing Gabb, spoke extensively on his client’s behalf outlining all of the points he said reflected well on the teen and therefore justified imposing a non-custodial sentence.
In addition to his ‘guilty’ pleas on all charges, compliance during interview and young age, Advocate Gollop emphasised that several people who know Gabb have provided character references which “all speak highly of him”.
These references, the defence lawyer argued, “provide a very different picture of this young man” to the “young drug dealer” who carried out these offences.
Advocate Gollop focused on the work Gabb had achieved to kick his drug habit after referring himself to the Alcohol and Drug Service – efforts that were described as “admirable” by a member of the team there.
The team member also praised Gabb’s “focus, openness and honesty” during their meetings.
“This is a young man that will never appear before you again,” Advocate Gollop asserted.
During Advocate Gollop’s submissions, the Deputy Bailiff said that the Court was “troubled” to read that someone Gabb knew had paid off his “drug debt” totalling between £3,500 to £4,000.
Labelling this a “wholly unlawful transaction”, Advocate Gollop accepted this and said the person was “concerned” about any “repercussions” the debt would have for Gabb and that his client intends to pay this person back.
Pictured: The case was presided over by Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae.
The case was heard by Jurats Christensen and Ramsden.
Handing down the Court’s decision, the Deputy Bailiff addressed Gabb, saying “your life has been blighted by an addiction to cannabis” and for this, the court considered “you only have yourself to blame”.
He expressed concern that Gabb's social circle did nothing to “dissuade” him from his dealing as they could benefit from the drugs he supplied.
“I hope your friends take this case as a warning,” adding later on that sending Gabb to custody “would be a lesson to you and those around you that dealing in drugs is not only unlawful, but harmful to your health.”
Noting Gabb’s cooperation with the Alcohol and Drug Service, the Deputy Bailiff said that this was “a very strong feature” in support of the young man when it comes to sentencing.
In relation to the drug debt, the judge said: “We do hope you feel nothing but shame and guilt that [someone] had to pay £3,500 to £4,000 towards the sum you owed your drug dealer.”
With that, the Court imposed a sentence of 312 hours of community service and a probation order of two years.
The Deputy Bailiff made a final warning to the teen, saying: “Your advocate said this morning that we will never see you again in this court. We hope that is true.”
Pictured (top): Some of the drugs packages that were seized from Gabb (JCIS).
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