Woman who smuggled drugs into rave for mystery man walks free

A woman who smuggled drugs into a rave for a mystery man was spared jail.

A judge today accepted that Antonia Newell hid the drugs in her skirt out of a “misplaced sense of loyalty” for the unknown male.

The 24-year-old was stopped in December before going into a Circus Christmas Special event featuring DJ Solomun at Bramley Moore Dock.

A sniffer dog detected around £590 worth of ecstasy and cocaine which she had concealed in her skirt.

Newell appeared at Liverpool Crown Court this morning to be sentenced after a judge questioned her claims of a ‘misplaced sense of loyalty’.

On Thursday Judge Brian Cummings, QC, said: “She said she did it because she and her family were threatened with violence” adding that it seemed “at odds” with what Newell previously said in a police interview.

At the last hearing Ken Heckle, defending, said: “I think it’s a situation where probably this defendant, when she agreed to do what she did, was in fear of the person, fear that if she didn’t do as she was told… but no actual threats were made to her. It was more of the reputation of the person. It’s out of that misguided loyalty.”

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Today another judge said he accepted the basis of plea and Newell was sentenced on the basis that she was taking the drugs to the mystery man.

At today’s hearing Mike Stephenson, prosecuting, explained: “The defendant attended at Bramley Moore Dock at an organised rave on December 21, 2019.

“A drug detector dog identified a pack of drugs which was concealed in her skirt and she was detained.”

The court heard she was also in possession of a small quantity of cannabis as well as the 2.56grams of cocaine and 9.87grams of MDMA, some in the form of crystals in four bags and the rest in 24 tabs.

Mr Stephenson explained after the class A drugs were found Newell was interviewed and said she was supposed to meet a man she knew inside the rave at a bar and give him the drugs.

He said: “She said she didn’t want to do it but didn’t want to get in trouble.”

Mr Stephenson explained Newell said in a probation report “she and her family were threatened with violence” but noted that she no longer stands by the comment.

Newell, of Cinema Drive, Wavertree, was previously fined £100 for possessing cocaine in April 2015.

Mr Stephenson said: “She was out in Wood Street with her boyfriend, he was about to be searched and he put something in her bag.

“He had nothing on him and her bag was searched and a quantity of cocaine was recovered which she insisted was hers.”

Mr Heckle, speaking at today’s hearing, explained that Newell’s guilty plea indicates her remorse and asked the judge to take into account that despite having admitted the offences in interview, it took 13 to 14 months to come before a court.

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He said: “Her previous conviction perhaps gives insight that she is vulnerable and susceptible to others.”

Mr Heckle added that she “felt she couldn’t say no”.

He told the court she had a “very sad upbringing” although “that doesn’t explain the criminality in this case”.

Mr Heckle noted a letter written to the judge by Maria Mooney and said she “has not been defined by what she has seen or gone through”.

The court heard Newell has qualifications and a job which she finished in December but hopes to go back to.

Mr Heckle, urging the judge to suspend a custodial sentence, said: “This is a defendant who has been very resourceful and overcome all sorts of difficulties in her life.”

He explained that Newell has also volunteered for charity for around six years.

He said: “I would submit there is hope for this young lady despite that background.

“I cannot do any better than Maria Mooney’s letter which indicates how many hurdles she has had to overcome.”

Mr Heckle said that although Newell has one previous conviction, after taking the Women’s Turnaround course it would be unlikely the courts would see her again.

Newell previously admitted possessing MDMA and cocaine with intent to supply, and possessing cannabis

Judge Robert Trevor-Jones, sentencing, said: “Both of the drugs in counts one and two, ecstasy and cocaine, are class A drugs. That is the highest category of drugs.

“People who do involve themselves in the supply of such drugs should expect to go to prison.

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“On this particular day, December 21, 2019, you were going to that rave and you took, or were going to take with you, 26 pills and some crystals of MDMA and six wraps of cocaine.

“You obtained them from a male who you knew.

“You agreed to smuggle them in then you would pass them to him when you met at an allocated bar in the rave itself.”

The judge said: “I make clear I am sentencing you on the basis you entered on the last occasion.”

Judge Trevor-Jones said he also took into account the fact there was no financial reward for Newell.

The judge said despite the basis of plea it is still a “serious offence” as it was “inevitable” the man wanted the drugs at the rave to sell them.

Antonia Newell hid ecstasy and cocaine in her skirt when trying to get into a house and techno event
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Speaking about the circumstances of Newell’s previous offence the judge said “It does seem to me you carried the can for the male concerned, but I am not diminishing the previous conviction – it is what it is”.

Judge Trevor-Jones explained he would impose a suspended sentence “primarily on the basis of plea” and applied credit for Newell’s guilty plea.

The judge also cited a letter which provided “considerable insight into [her] unfortunate start” adding it couldn’t be “carried through life” to excuse any offending.

The court heard Newell was also remorseful, which the judge accepted, as well as the fact it was an isolated incident.

Newell was handed a sentence of one year and ten months and must complete 120 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to complete up to 30 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirements and comply with a four month curfew between the hours of 8pm and 7am.

The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs.

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News