Hartlepool woman supplied man with diazepam shortly before his death

Teesside Crown Court

Teesside Crown Court

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

A WOMAN who supplied drugs to a man shortly before his death has been jailed.

Leeann Douglass sold 20 diazepam tablets to Christopher Vanes on the day he died of heart failure in April last year.

Although Douglass, 25, of Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool, initially told police she had not received money for the tablets, checks of her Facebook page revealed Mr Vanes had paid for the drugs.

Tests showed Mr Vanes had a cocktail of drugs in his system, including heroin.

Teesside Crown Court heard how police later searched the defendant's home and found more than 1,000 diazepam tablets, as well as mobile phones which contained messages about drug dealing.

Police found more than 1,500 tablets during a second search of Douglass' home in August last year.

When police arrived her then partner, Benjamin Arnold, was found trying to dispose of a tub of tablets.

Douglass bit an officer and tried to stab him with a pen when the pair were arrested.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said: "It's the crown's case that whilst we obviously can't say to what extent the diazepam was the cause and effect of this gentleman's death, he had taken diazepam and was supplied by Douglass on the day of his death."

Martin Scarborough, mitigating for Douglass, said his client had mental health issues and was addicted to diazepam, which she sold to fund her habit.

Douglass pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to five charges including possessing a Class C drug with intent to supply and assaulting a police officer.

Sentencing Douglass to 22 months in prison, Judge Peter Armstrong said the diazepam supplied by the defendant may have increased the toxicity of the heroin taken by Mr Vanes.

He added: "It's not possible to say that this supply from the defendant led to Mr Vanes' death - it may have done and you will have to live with that possibility."

Arnold, 28, of Furness Street, Hartlepool, admitted a single charge of possessing a Class C drug with intent to supply at an earlier hearing.

He was given a four-month sentence, suspended for two years, after the court heard it was his first offence.

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