An 84-year-old man, who was caught with eight wraps of cocaine, has escaped a jail sentence because of his age.
“You should be going to prison today,” Judge John Phipps told John Unsworth, of Tyldesley, at Liverpool Crown Court.
Disabled Unsworth, who walks with a stick, admitted possession of a class A drug with intent to supply. He was ordered to wear an electronic tag with a 21:00 to 07:00 curfew for six months and to attend a 10-day course run by the probation service.
“Because of your age and your state of health I am going to step back,” said the judge.
Unsworth was arrested after a police community support officer (PCSO) saw two known drug users getting out of his car. The court heard that the drugs weighed just over one gram but Judge Phipps said Unsworth had received a suspended jail term for similar offences involving heroin when he was aged 76.
“I find that unimpressive,” said the judge said. The judge also confiscated Unsworth’s red MG car and awarded it to Greater Manchester Police.
Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said the PCSO saw two drug users getting out of Unsworth’s car in Samuel Street, Atherton, at 22:10 BST on 2 July. He alerted the police and when officers stopped the vehicle in Shakerley Road, Tyldesley, 40 minutes later Unsworth was found to have eight wraps of 85% pure cocaine with a street value of £80.
“He said, ‘it’s a fair catch’,” Mr Pepper told the court.
When interviewed he denied drug dealing. Unsworth, of Hough Lane, Leigh, pleaded guilty on the basis he had intended sharing the drug with two friends after they had pooled their money to buy it.
Amos Waldman, defending, said: “He acted extremely foolishly.”
He said Unsworth did not make any commercial gain from the drugs, which he bought after a friend suggested they might alleviate his depression following the death of his wife and step-daughter. Unsworth had agreed to supply two friends with cocaine after they pooled their money but it was not a commercial operation, he said.
“A custodial sentence at his age and condition would have a considerable impact on his health,” said Mr Waldman.
The court heard that Unsworth was currently awaiting surgery for an enlarged testicle.