A mum-to-be caught drug dealing has dodged prison – despite a judge telling her that being pregnant wasn’t a “get out of jail free” card.
Pebecca Pomphrett was arrested for selling MDMA and cannabis just outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre.
The 20-year-old later stated she was dealing the Class A and B drugs in order to pay her household bills, the Liverpool Echo reports.
However, a judge decided against handing her a prison sentence after taking into account the impact this would have on her unborn child.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how Promphrett was apprehended by officers opposite Lime Street station, at roughly 3.30pm, on October 2 last year.
Michael Stephenson, prosecuting, said: “She had a cannabis grinder and cigarette papers on her.
“She was spoken to by the officers. They didn’t have a female officer with them, but when asked if she had other drugs on her, she volunteered other drugs in her possession.
“She had what’s described as five quarter ounce deals of cannabis, 32.4g, but it does appear from the description it was poor quality material… dust and stalks.
“She also had 14 yellow tablets, weighing 6.5g, which proved to be MDMA, with a street value of £70 to £140.”
Pomphrett gave a no comment interview, but later admitted possessing Class A and B drugs with intent to supply.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Mr Stephenson said: “She has provided a more candid account in the pre-sentence report, where she says effectively it was A, an opportunity to get out of the house, and B, the chance to make some provision towards payment of household bills.”
He added: “Her phone contained a significant number of dealing messages, relating to the ‘Gas Gang’.
“She had identified several locations where she could be met for the purchase of drugs.”
Mr Stephenson said the Crown suggested it was a street dealing “significant role” case, because she was selling drugs to fund household bills.
He said if the judge concluded it was a “significant role”, guidelines indicated a starting point of four and a half years in prison, with a range of three and a half to seven years, before credit of one third for her early guilty pleas.
Ken Heckle, defending, suggested it was a “lesser role”, meaning the judge could take a lower starting point, and with mitigation and credit, could impose a sentence of two years or less, capable of being suspended.
He said Pomphrett wasn’t blaming anyone else and agreed she was “almost naively and refreshingly honest” in a pre-sentence report, after showed immaturity in her dealings with officers.
He said: “The reason the Crown know the messages is she readily gave the PIN [to the phone].”
Mr Heckle added: “She was badgered by a person to do this… She was a willing participant in difficult circumstances.”
He said Pomphrett was supported in her court by her aunt, who has had parental responsibility for her since she was two, and whom she considers to be her mum.
Mr Heckle said a letter from her grandad outlined her parents were “incapable” of looking after her.
After speaking to her aunt, he said this was because of “alcohol”, Pomphrett’s parents were 16 and 17 at the time, and “put themselves first”.
He said Pomphrett’s one past conviction for battery in 2017 was an assault on her aunt in a “teenage tantrum”.
Mr Heckle said remorseful Pomphrett was now in a relationship with a young man and due to give birth in April, but was admitted to hospital on Friday because of “really bad morning sickness”.
He said: “The father is going to be significantly affected if this defendant was in Styal [prison].”
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Judge Swinnerton said: “More importantly, so is the baby.”
Mr Heckle said: “I’m not putting it forward as a ‘get out of jail free card’ in that sense, but with her difficulties she wouldn’t go from Styal back to the women’s hospital in Liverpool, she would be transferred to Manchester.”
He said this could lead to difficulties with transfer of medical notes and added: “Continuity of care is perhaps all important at this stage.”
He said she had “probably been hoodwinked by people more criminally sophisticated than her to do this” and jailing her “would deprive the father in particular of the joys of a birth in hospital in normal circumstances”.
Pomphrett cried as Judge Swinnerton told her: “If you didn’t know then, you know now, dealing in Class A drugs, possession with intent to supply Class A drugs is a serious offence.
“Class A drugs can kill, Class A drugs do damage, and destroy lives and communities.”
However, he said the case “shouts out to me that you’re naive, not criminally sophisticated, that you are yourself to some extent vulnerable, and you have been very foolish”.
He accepted she had “a difficult start” in life and her aunt had to “pick up the pieces”.
Judge Swinnerton said: “You have to think very hard about what sort of start you’re going to give your child in life.
“Be more like your auntie and less like your birth mum is what I would urge you to do, because you’ve got another human being coming along, who’s going to be utterly dependent on you and the care you can provide.”
He said she performed “a limited function under direction” through “naivety, immaturity or exploitation”.
Judge Swinnerton said: “You were used by others and you were foolish and immature enough to agree to do that.”
He said the claim she had wanted to “get out of the house during lockdown” was “ridiculous”.
But he found it was a “lesser role” case, there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and jail would have a significant harmful impact on others.
Judge Swinnerton said: “The others are your unborn child, not your partner. That would be terribly sad if he couldn’t be present at the birth, but it’s not the impact on him, it’s the impact on your unborn child.
“I don’t think being pregnant is a ‘get out of jail free’ card – of course it isn’t – but it’s going to be a lot of hard work for you .
“I do take account of the fact you’re pregnant, not as a ‘get out of jail free’ card, but account of the impact on others, and you.”
He handed her two years in prison, suspended for two years, with a 10-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 80 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Swinnerton reserved any breaches to himself and warned: “If you get involved in something like this again, you’re going to go to prison.”