Judge “very disappointed” drug treatment provider will not help Felixstowe cannabis user

Smoking cannabis - library photo

Smoking cannabis - library photo - Credit: PA

A judge has expressed disappointment that Suffolk’s drug treatment provider has declined to help wean a heavy user of cannabis off his habit.

Joe Starling, of Cloncurry Gardens, Felixstowe, was given a suspended prison sentence by Ipswich Crown Court for possessing cannabis with intent to supply, possession of the Class B drug, and a money laundering offence.

He had previously admitted all three offences.

However, during the 25-year-old’s hearing the court heard a probation officer compiling a pre-sentence report was told drug treatment organisation Turning Point had said it did not consider Starling suitable for a rehab programme despite his heavy usage of cannabis.

Sentencing Starling Judge Rupert Overbury said: “I am very disappointed that the current treatment provider Turning Point does not provide treatment for someone like you - with what has been an entrenched cannabis habit - with any programmes that are suitable for your rehabilitation.

“It seems plain to me that there’s a real risk of you returning to your use of cannabis should certain circumstances prevail upon you.”

The court had heard Starling had previously been using cannabis to such an extent he had become concerned it was affecting his mental health at one point.

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Since his arrest in March this year it was said he had cut his consumption to £10 of cannabis a week.

Judge Overbury warned Starling if he continued to use the Class B drug and was caught again during the 18-month suspended sentence his jail term of four months’ imprisonment could be activated.

Prosecutor Matthew Morgan said Starling was caught at around 6.30pm on March 12 when his VW Passat was highlighted by Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment.

When a police community support officer searched the vehicle after it pulled up in Cloncurry Gardens car park two packets of cannabis were found.

A search of Starling’s home yielded nearly 105 grammes of skunk and almost 65gms of less potent cannabis.

Scales and £1,000 were also found.

The total street value of the cannabis was said to be around £1,800.

Roger Thomson, mitigating, said Starling had become involved with cannabis as a user, but as his debt to drug dealers escalated he began dealing to friends so he could pay off what he owed and fund his own habit.

In addition to his suspended sentence Starling must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

John Carlin, Senior Operations Manager for the Suffolk Recovery Network said: ‘Turning Point took over the substance misuse services in Suffolk on April 1.

“Although we do not comment on individual cases we do everything we can to provide the right support to people when they need it, based on an assessment of the individual at the time they are referred to us.

‘The new service provides a range of community-based support for individuals and families on their journey to recovery along with support for those arrested for offences relating to drugs or alcohol, and individuals re-joining the community after leaving prison.’