Two cocaine dealers have escaped jail after telling police they were forced to do it, in order to pay off drug debts.
In 2017, Joseph Broadbent and Stuart Edwards became customers of Bolton-based dealer Darren Lomax
Broadbent would let Lomax store his drugs at his home in Longfield Road, Daubhill, and later started chasing debts on Lomax’s behalf, prosecution barrister Anya Horwood told Bolton Crown Court.
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Edwards, meanwhile, became hooked on cocaine after Lomax gave him £150 worth, soon buying £1,000 of it every month – racking up massive debts in the process.
Lomax told Edwards that he could pay off his debt quicker if he started collecting and delivering drugs on his behalf.
Despite this, Lomax called in his debts in November 2018 and Edwards’ partner had to take out a £10,000 loan to pay them off.
His addiction continued and the debt kept mounting, until he owed Lomax more than £31,000 by June 2019.
Lomax made threats to Edwards directly and through his family, with things eventually coming to a head in June 16.
Edwards had been out for a meal for his son’s 16th birthday and after avoiding a number of calls, he eventually agreed to meet him near Broadbent’s home.
Lomax, wearing knuckle dusters, smashed the windscreen of Edwards’ car and punched him in the face two or three times.
After further threats, Edwards eventually made a confession to the police on July 12, telling them that he believed Lomax made £1,500 per night, between Thursday and Sunday.
Police raided Broadbent’s home on July 19 and found cocaine, skunk cannabis, scales, a mobile phone and empty snap bags.
There were also tubs of creatine, which Broadbent said was used to ‘bulk out’ the cocaine.
The street value of the cocaine found at the house was estimated to be between £3,480 and £5,560, the cannabis was valued between £990 and £1,690.
Broadbent was arrested by police and made admissions, as well as providing a witness statement.
He told officers that he also cut the drugs on occasions, in preparation for Edwards picking them up.
Broadbent admitted chasing up other drug users on behalf of Lomax and said his debts had spiralled to £15,000.
Bolton Crown Court
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
Lomax, now 35, was eventually arrested at his home in Ashton Street, Little Lever. He initially denied the crimes but on the day of his trial, he pleaded guilty to being concerned in supply of cocaine and cannabis, possession of cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply, blackmail, common assault, and criminal damage.
Edwards, now 38, of Brindley Close, Farnworth, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis.
Broadbent, now 26, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and possession of cannabis.
Defending Edwards, David Morton described Lomax’s actions as ‘gratuitous exploitation’.
He told the court that his debts would go up ‘arbitrarily’, with a threefold increase on one occasion.
Mr Morton said that Edwards is a ‘protective and industrious man’ and told the court that he is set to become a father again in September.
Joseph Broadbent’s home in Longfield Road was used to store the drugs
(Image: Google Maps)
Nicola Hall, defending Broadbent, said that he was “brought into this under very considerable pressure and coercion”.
She added that Lomax acted ‘cynically and deliberately’.
Ms Hall also told the court that Broadbent has recently been promoted in his job at Tesco, with his duty manager David Christian providing a positive character reference.
Edwards and Broadbent both received suspended sentences.
Judge Graeme Smith applied a 50pc reduction to each men’s starting sentence for their cooperation with the police investigation, and their “full and frank confessions”.
He applied a further one third reduction for their early guilty pleas.
Judge Smith said: “You are well aware, because you are in this position, of the negative impact that drugs can have on the lives of individuals – and that is an understatement.
“For a variety of reasons; health, financial, general wellbeing, safety and others, drugs can wreck lives.
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“I think it’s fair to say that your lives were wrecked but you also played a part in wrecking the lives of others.”
He added: “What happened is that you developed a drug habit, you fell into debt to Mr Lomax and then fell into a sustained, vicious and at one point, physically violent relationship with Mr Lomax who was determined not to let you out of his clutches.”
Edwards was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
Broadbent received a sentence of 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
Lomax will be sentenced at a later date.
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