Drug desperation clouded judgement

Desperation clouded the judgement of a recovering heroin addict, who fraudulently hired a van and drove it without a valid licence or insurance, a court heard.

Brandon James Utley, aged 39, of Flat 4, Pendre, Cardigan, pleaded guilty to using a Ford Transit van while his licence was revoked, and without third party insurance, when he appeared before Aberystwyth magistrates on Wednesday.

He also admitted possession of 3.1g Heroin, and fraud by false representation when hiring a vehicle.

Ellie Morgan, prosecuting, told the court that police spotted the van being driven erratically and swerving across the A484 near Cenarth on February 19.

They stopped the vehicle and removed the keys as they found Utley to be visibly shaking and ‘suffering somewhat’.

He admitted to taking heroin before driving that evening, and used needles and syringes were found in a container.

Five wraps of Heroin were found after Utley was arrested and strip-searched.

He told officers he was only driving out of desperation because of his drug addiction, and that he had let the taxi firm assume he had a valid driving licence.

Alison Mathias, defending, told the court her client had been ‘heavily dependent’ on heroin, and his licence had been revoked pending medical tests.

She said: “He was desperate, he needed heroin, which is why he acted the way he did. Desperation clouded his judgement when he went to hire that vehicle.”

She added that Utley was now on a methadone script which was working well.

Following a report from the probation service, Magistrates imposed an 18 month community order with supervision and drug rehabilitation.

Six points were added to his licence for the offence of no insurance, and he was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

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