Suspended jail sentence for Exmouth man who was forced to sell drugs by blowtorch threats

PUBLISHED: 16:13 26 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:13 26 October 2018

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant


A drug dealer from Withycombe Raleigh who was arrested while talking to a man in a parked car in the centre of Exmouth was caught with £2,900 worth of cocaine and £1,500 cash.

Harry Pritchard started selling cannabis but was pressurised into moving on to deal in cocaine and ecstasy by his supplier.

He was told he would be tortured with a blowtorch if he resisted, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Pritchard, aged 25, of Ashleigh Road, Exmouth, admitted two counts of possession of class A with intent to supply, one of personal possession of cannabis and one of possessing criminal property.

He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and 15 days of rehabilitation activities by Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC.

He told Pritchard: “You were dealing on the street and there is little to set you apart from any other street dealer. You say you were coerced into dealing but I have grave reservations about that.

“The probation officer has been impressed that in the 12 months since your arrest, you have weaned yourself off cocaine and cannabis and are trying to sort yourself out.

“The greatest benefit to society would be if you succeeded in that and are no longer engaged with illegal drugs.”

Miss Caroline Bolt, prosecuting, said police in Albion Street, Exmouth, at 4 pm on October 7 last year recognised a car, which had pulled up, as one that had earlier been seen driving erratically.

Pritchard was one of two men who were next to the car and police searched him because he looked very twitchy and nervous and had a large amount of cash sticking out of his pocket.

Police recovered £1,500 from him along with a small amount of cocaine and recovered £2,500 worth of cocaine, £170 worth of cannabis and 13 ecstasy tablets at his home along with other paraphernalia.

He admitted dealing but said he had been pressured into it and had only been selling cocaine for a month. He said he was normally paid in drugs but sometimes received payments of £100 from the main dealer.

Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Pritchard was naïve and impressionable and had been cajoled into selling drugs by threats from a supplier further up the line.

She said: “He is an incredibly naïve and subservient individual who suffers from severe anxiety. He was subjected to threats including that a blow torch would be used on parts of his body. He believed the threats were real.”

Miss Smith said Pritchard is a trained carpenter who is working full time and has succeeded in overcoming his drug problems with the help of his girlfriend.

He is currently living with his girlfriend’s family in a rural location elsewhere in Devon because he wants to stay away from bad influences in Exmouth.

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