Monday 28 September 2020
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MDMA dealer jailed for spreading "misery"

MDMA dealer jailed for spreading

Thursday 28 May 2020

MDMA dealer jailed for spreading "misery"

A drug dealer has been sent to prison after a police interview with someone caught in possession of drugs led them to him.

Jonathan Welch, 29, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for dealing MDMA tablets, dealing cannabis resin and a litany of "ripple" offences including possession of cannabis while on bail and refusing to give police officers the passcode to his phone or laptop.

His then-girlfriend, Emily Birtwistle, 19, was charged with dealing cannabis resin with Welch and was given an 18-month youth detention sentence, suspended for two years. 

The pair were arrested on 27 April 2019 after information police had obtained from another interview led them to Welch, who had a stash with him including 48.3g of cannabis resin and four MDMA tablets. 

Police managed to access Welch and Birtwistle's phones - despite Welch refusing to provide the passcode to his - which suggested that the drugs they had found in their possession was just a "portion" of what they had dealt. 

Defence Advocate Liam Roffey, acting for Welch, said his client had been dealing drugs to fund his own use. 

"His entire adult life has been characterized by drug use and mental health issues," he said. 

Welch has been signed off work on income support since 2018 because of his "anxiety", "depression" and "precarious mental health", and Advocate Roffey said those issues had been exacerbated by the delays in bringing the matters against him to court.


Pictured: Welch was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

However, he had sought professional help for his addiction voluntarily and had abstained from drugs for the last six weeks, which Advocate Roffey said "demonstrated that he can lead a law abiding life".

Advocate Sam Steel, acting for Birtwistle, said his client was only involved in the supply of cannabis, not MDMA, which was confirmed by the Court.

Birtwistle had suffered from mental health issues, and Advocate Steel said she has had plenty of time to look back on her life choices in the last year.

"She has severed the ties that bound her to her old life," Advocate Steel told the Court, while Birtwistle said she would put in "200% effort" to work with professionals, obtain employment and make the most of her second chance.

Bailiff Richard McMahon said the Court understood that both defendants had experienced "various problems in your lives,  including mental health issues".

However, their excuses were "unexceptional" and the Court was satisfied that the stash discovered by police was "only a portion" of what the pair had dealt to the local community. 

"You have chosen to be habitual drug users and you were dealing to fund your habits," he said. 

He said drug use depends on someone being prepared to supply.

"Without that, the misery caused by drug use would dry up or disappear," Mr McMahon told the pair. 


Pictured: Bailiff Richard McMahon said drug dealing spreads "misery" around the community. 

The Bailiff said Welch was at high-risk of reoffending and of causing "serious harm" to the general public because of his criminal record.

He was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison. 

Birtwistle was rated as posing a moderate risk of reoffending. Mr McMahon and the seven Jurats presiding over the case were concerned that she had "not yet abandoned" her use of cannabis.

"If nothing else, this should have been a wake up call leading to total abstinence."

Birtwistle had played her part in what had been a "well-organised enterprise" and was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years, with a supervision order for the duration.

"We have decided that your youth means you should be given a second chance to stay out of trouble," said Mr McMahon as he explained why the court had decided against immediate custody.

Pictured top: Guernsey's Royal Court and, inset, Jonathan Welch.

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Posted by Robert Williams on
Is "mental health problems" the new excuse for breaking the law? I find it strange that anyone accused of breaking the law automatically pleads "mental health problems", never jousts admits they did wrong.
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