A 18-year-old student has narrowly avoided a custodial sentence after pleading guilty to the importation of 304 ecstasy tablets he had ordered off the dark web, as well as 50 grams of MDMA on two separate occasions.
Joel Lewis will now serve 384 hours of community service - a sentence on which the Jurats were not unanimous.
Appearing in the Royal Court today, Lewis was charged with two counts of importing class A drugs and two counts of possession of controlled substances.
Crown advocate Conrad Yates told the Court that on 17 March 2017, Lewis made a reservation request at the Mayfair Hotel under an alias, and asked if a letter could be delivered to the hotel as he needed it for a meeting on the day of his stay.
Five days later, he rang the hotel and told them that a package would arrive for him and asked to be notified of its arrival. He was then informed that he needed to have a booking in order for them to accept the package and so about an hour later, he made a booking.
Hotel staff were suspicious of the two packages which had arrived from the Netherlands and called the police. Officers found 304 tablets, which tested positive for MDMA, in the packages. After identifying Lewis, they arrested him at his school.
Upon his arrest, police raided Lewis' house and found a red tin in the garden containing 47 grams of MDMA, 2.6 grams of cannabis and a small amount of Ketamine.
Pictured: Lewis had the tablets sent to the Mayfair Hotel.
Lewis told officers he had ordered the MDMA off the dark web and had it delivered to a hotel in St.Malo. He then brought it back and handed it over to two unnamed associates, who he said acted as financial backers and did all of the ‘dirty work’ for him.
He admitted receiving 47.5% of the profits for the transactions but said that in the case of the tablets ordered to the Mayfair Hotel, he would have kept everything, having organised everything on his own.
An expert report revealed that the total street value of the tablets and powder was between £9,175.00 and £12,725, with Lewis expecting to receive £6,294.
The Court heard that Lewis had not planned to import drugs again due to it being "super stressful." Defending, Advocate Sarah Dale said Lewis’ involvement with drugs came about through the peer pressure of trying to fit in at a new school which he joined when he was 16.
She added: “Lewis accepts the decisions he made were wrong and were out of naivety and immaturity. Had he been 10 years older, chances are this wouldn’t have happened.”
Lewis, who was 17 at the time of ordering the MDMA, recently received a bursary offered by the army, which he wished to join after doing his A-levels. Although the bursary has now been withdrawn, Advocate Dale pleaded with the Jurats to opt for a community service order to be given. She said this would give Lewis a greater chance of joining the army, As it would not delay his admission, whereas a custodial sentence would.
Handing down his sentence, the Deputy Bailiff, who was sitting with Jurats Pamela Pitman, Jane Ronge, Paul Nicolle, Jerry Ramsden and Rozanne Thomas, described the defendant’s actions as "actively calculated." However, he spoke about mitigating factors which worked in his favour, including his age, a clean record, "exceptional references," a supportive family and the fact they took his remorse to be genuine and did not believe he would offend again.
Although the decision to give Lewis community service was not unanimous, the Deputy Bailiff said: “In this case a non-custodial sentence can be passed down, it seems inexplicable to all who know you how you fell into this stupid, dangerous and antisocial behaviour.”
Lewis was sentenced to 384 hours of community service – the equivalent to two-and-a-half years in prison. The Deputy Bailiff warned him: "Community service will be difficult, you will lose your weekends and it will be a challenge which you will complete with the utmost regard. If you come again before us, there is no doubt that a much harsher punishment will be handed down.”
Lewis was a former pupil of Victoria College, and following the Royal Court's sentence, the school has written to parents to reassure them about the action taken to teach pupils about the dangers of drugs.
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