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Jail for 'lucky to be alive' South Devon drug addict

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

A DRUG addict who is lucky to be alive due to the copious amounts of heroin he takes has been sent to jail for 120 days.

At the height of his addiction, Gareth Stafford, 33, was injecting 16 bags of heroin a day.

Doctors consider a 12 bag a day addiction to be fatal.

At Torquay Magistrates' Court, Stafford, who has lived in Newton Abbot, Torquay and Paignton in the last 12 months, was sent to jail for 14 offences of theft, drug possession and bail breaches.

The court was told Stafford suffered from health problems as a result of his drug use which started when he was a teenager.

Doctors have ruled out a deep vein thrombosis but have instead identified a blocked artery which will probably result in his leg being amputated.

Magistrates said they had no choice but to jail him because, despite lowering his drug intake recently, Stafford was not yet ready to get help for his addictions.

The defendant admitted all the charges against him, including four counts of possessing drugs.

The court was told the eight theft offences included stealing razor blades valued at £275 from Boots in Paignton and alcohol from Morrisons. The thefts added up to about £650.

The offences took place between April and July this year.

In mitigation, Alan Parsons said the crimes were minor and 'not on the scale of Grand Theft Auto'.

He said they were done to pay for his addiction.

Stafford had co-operated with police and admitted his guilt all along.

"He shouldn't be alive today," Mr Parsons added.

"He is still using two or three bags a day but in the context of 16 a day that is a significantly reduced habit.

"He has been saying the right things about wanting treatment but we are not at the stage where he is putting his actions into words.

"Probation are not able to offer him anything because of his failed drug rehabilitation requirement.

"He's had a very difficult life."

But magistrates said the crimes were too serious to punish by means of a house curfew and he was sent to jail.

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