Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Heroin Addict Begs For Prison Detox Treatment

from the Border Telegraph

A PETTY criminal who claimed he got hooked on heroin after being sent to prison begged a Sheriff to send him back so he could rid himself of the drug.

At Selkirk Sheriff Court on Monday, Campbell Ledgerwood, 37, of Whitefield Crescent, Newtown St Boswells, admitted stealing a bottle of whisky - worth £20.49 - to fund his habit from Somerfield supermarket in Galashiels on August 31.

He claimed he only got hooked on the Class A drug after being sent to alcohol detox at Saughton Prison in Edinburgh to recover from his alcohol addiction while serving a custodial sentence for another offence earlier this year.

However, Sheriff Kevin Drummond, who claimed the public would be "comforted" to know drugs were "in abundance" at the high security jail, refused his request and instead fined him £200.

Passing sentence, he told Ledgerwood: "It's not for you to decide the appropriate disposal. There are facilities in the public domain to deal with drug addiction.

"The only appropriate disposal in this case is a financial penalty." And he added: "It would have been £300 but for your early guilty plea."

The court heard the convicted thief had previously sought help to get clean from The Borders Community Addictions Team (BECAT), a local health board initiative which offers a service to residents in the region who are having problems with substance misuse.

But, despite recovering from his alcohol addiction, he is still in need of Heroin addiction treatment.

Ledgerwood's solicitor Hannah Jones explained: "He stole the whisky to fund a heroin habit which he developed while serving a custodial sentence earlier this year and he's asked whether a custodial sentence would be considered today so he can detox inside.

"He's 37-years-old and has been in and out of custody most of his life.

"Since he came out of jail in April, he has made contact with BCAT and been in Huntlyburn (hospital) but the detox wasn't working for him and now he wants to go cold turkey."

Procurator fiscal Morag McClintock revealed the bottle of whisky was recovered by police. She said: "He (Ledgerwood) admitted he stole it to fund his drug habit. He told police that he wanted to be locked up so he could get off drugs."

However, despite walking free from court, Ledgerwood could still find himself back inside. Leaving the dock after being fined, he retorted: "I'm not paying it."

The Scottish Prison Service revealed more than 2000 drug finds were recorded in the country's jails in the 15 months up to March 2009. But it insisted it was working hard to cure the problem.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service told the Border Telegraph: "Drugs are a problem in prison in the same way as they are a problem in society as a whole.

"However, SPS tackles the issue with vigour through the use of sniffer dogs, intelligence and the use of sophisticated technology to find or intercept drugs.

"New legislation which the government has proposed will tackle the use of mobile phones which are used in prison in drug trafficking. Mobile phone possession will become an offence and SPS will also take steps to block their use.

"But SPS also work hard with other agencies to tackle addictions while people are in prison and to support those prisoners keen to leave prison addiction-free."

The Scottish Government said it does not comment on individual cases and pointed out sentencing was a matter for the courts. However, a spokeswoman said it was investing record funding in alcohol treatment programs to help more people recover from drug misuse.

Local MSP Jeremy Purvis, a former member of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee, said: "Radical reforms are needed to reduce the availability of drugs in our jails where we expect security to be tighter."