Last week we reported on the American case of Leo Sharp, an 89 drugs courier. On 15th October 2013, Alvin Ricketts, a 74 year old English pensioner, was sent to prison for 2 years and 9 months for drug dealing in a slightly pale imitation.
Mr Ricketts was twice caught on police cameras selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers. His MO was to walk around Soho with the drugs in his mouth wearing, perhaps to detract attention from his drug dealing he “often wore a shirt and tie to sell drugs, completing the look with dinner scarves or flamboyant hats including with a soft toy wolf’s head and a fedora“.
There was a guilty plea on the day of trial. This would normally attract credit of one tenth. In these circumstances, it would appear that some other charges were dropped. Looking at that, and the sums, would suggest that the Judge took a starting point of 3 years.
Looking at the Sentencing Guidelines for drugs, it would appear that, as a street dealer who was also a user, this is Category 3 with a Significant role (although towards the bottom of that category). This has a starting point of 4½ years.
Why the big difference between that and the starting point that the Judge took? Firstly, the guidelines are not particularly helpful or well designed. On the face of it, the case has the ‘feel’ of someone being at the bottom of the chain of command who was dealing in order to support his habit (Mr Ricketts tested positive to cocaine and heroin when arrested). It is likely that that, coupled with the age of Mr Ricketts, contributed to a starting point below the tariff.
All in all, this seems a suitable case to give a lower sentence that for a younger man. Whether it will help Mr Ricketts actually get the treatment he needs to stop his addiction remains to be seen. He also received a 5 year ASBO banning him from various parts of the West End.