Wed, 27 Jan 2021
A DRUG dealer was so delighted to avoid an immediate prison term he went out to celebrate... and ended up back in the dock
That put Andrew James Pridham’s freedom at risk once more after he broke a restraining order imposed for offences against a woman.
On Monday, January 18, he turned up for sentencing at Reading Crown Court with an overnight bag packed, prepared for the worst.
The 42-year-old, who used to live in Thatcham High Street and now lives at The Slade, Bucklebury, had been convicted of possessing the Class B-controlled drug cannabis with intent to supply it in Thatcham in January last year.
But instead of being locked up, he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
He had also been made subject to the restraining order forbidding him from contacting Juanita Eggleton, either directly or indirectly, after sending her a message that was indecent or grossly offensive for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety and of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause her fear.
Lisa Goddard, prosecuting at Monday’s hearing, said that last November Pridham – who has 11 previous convictions, the court heard – was convicted of breaching the restraining order and fined £80 plus costs and a statutory victim services surcharge by Reading magistrates.
However, the consequent breach of the suspended sentence order imposed for drug dealing had been sent back to the crown court to deal with.
Ms Goddard reminded Judge Edward Burgess QC that, although the breach was for a dissimilar offence, guidelines state the suspended sentence should be activated, in part or in full, unless it was manifestly unfair to do so.
Sarah McIntyre, defending, said her client had been working in swimming pool maintenance, whenever coronavirus lockdown circumstances allowed.
She pointed out that he had co-operated fully with the probation service, which had written a positive report about Mr Pridham.
Ms McIntyre said that her client had breached the restraining order by sending a text to Ms Eggleton’s daughter soon after he was given a suspended, rather than immediate, prison sentence for the drug dealing offence.
Judge Burgess said: “He had too much to drink, no doubt not believing his good fortune at not going immediately to prison.”
It was in those circumstances that Pridham texted Ms Eggleton’s daughter, said the judge, who added: “I’m not going to activate the sentence, either in whole or in part.”
He acknowledged the progress Pridham had been making in his personal life and told him: “This was a foolish thing to do – you know that.
“Had it not been for this suspended sentence order, the fine and costs at the magistrates’ court [for breaching the restraining order] would no doubt have been the end of it.”
Judge Burgess acknowledged “an impressive letter” written on his behalf by a probation officer.
He said his sentencing options were limited, but that he had decided the best way to deal with the breach was to extend the period of suspension by six months, from 18 months to two years.