Teen crack dealer given a second chance

St Albans Crown Court. Picture: DANNY LOO

St Albans Crown Court. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A St Albans teenager who spent four months dealing crack cocaine and heroin has avoided prison for his crimes.

James Fontaine, 19, who committed the offences between April and August last year, received a suspended jail sentence at St Albans Crown Court today.

Prosecutor Rosie Slowe said he was using a phone registered to his mother and a pay-as-you-go unregistered mobile to set up deals, and used taxis to deliver the Class A drugs.

She said he was arrested on November 10 after Herts police received intelligence that one of the phones was being used for drug dealing. No drugs were found at his address and he made no comment to police questions.

Fontaine, of Elizabeth Court, St Albans, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin. He had one previous conviction for possessing a blade.

Defending, Catherine Higgs said Fontaine had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had already served the equivalent of a 4 month sentence whilst on remand.

Ms Higgs said: “He was 18 at the time and was involved with older, negative influences. He walked away from the dealing in August and started a job in September.

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“He is remorseful and the two months he has spent in custody has had a significant impact on him.”

She asked for a suspended sentence, saying he had stopped associating with ‘negative influences’ and wanted to learn a trade as a plumber.

Recorder Allison Hunter QC told him: “This was a very serious offence. It was committed over a significant period of time.

“I take into account that you were only 18 and there is an element of naivety.

“I hear you have made efforts and you walked away. Take advantage of this chance because you won’t get another one.”

The judge passed a two-year jail sentence suspended for 18 months. He must carry out 120 hours’ unpaid work, attend 15 rehabilitation days and attend six sessions of a course.