Pressure drove mum to deal drugs, claim

AN Ipswich mother who was pressurised into becoming a drug dealer, has escaped a jail sentence.Amanda Bennett pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply them.

AN Ipswich mother who was pressurised into becoming a drug dealer, has escaped a jail sentence.

Amanda Bennett pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply them.

She also admitted two charges of being concerned with the supply of the drugs, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

However, Judge John Devaux was told the 36-year-old was pressurised into dealing drugs by a man who is well known to the courts.

The court heard this man, who is awaiting trial and cannot be named, used "improper means" to make Bennett fear for her and her two children's safety.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said police raided Bennett's Aster Road home on March 18 and seized 19 packages containing a total of 3.9 grams of heroin and 14 packages containing 4.2 grams of crack cocaine. The value of the drugs was just below £1,000. Cash of £110, a set of scales, records of sales and other items used in drug dealing were also discovered.

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Simon Spence, mitigating, said: "I accept these offences cross the custody threshold but there must be circumstances so exceptional that the sentence could be suspended."

He explained that Bennett, a former heroin addict, was unable to use the defence of "duress" because in law she was able to leave the 'situation' despite her fears.

However the Crown Prosecution Service accepted Bennett's written plea which outlined the pressures put on her.

Judge Devaux said the full details could not be given in open court at this stage because of the pending trial. He added that Bennett had no previous convictions and although it was a "very unusual course" he would make the prison sentence suspended and shorter than was usual because of the "exceptional circumstances".

Bennett was sentenced to 18 months in jail, suspended for 18 months. Judge Devaux said that way, if she stayed out of trouble she would not have to serve any of the sentence.

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