A judge has shown mercy on a reformed drug user after hearing how he was held captive by his own family and forced to detoxify.
John Griffiths was using so much heroin he reached a near fatal dose before being locked up in a caravan by his father for four days and then taken to a private clinic for an implant which cured his craving from the drug.
The metal trader and former thatcher was caught with around £3,000 worth of heroin when police raided his home in Tiverton twice in the space of 18 days in November 2012.
He was awaiting trial when his father intervened in June last year and forced his son to go cold turkey by keeping him captive.
Griffiths, aged 44, of Chapel Street, Tiverton, admitted two counts of possession of heroin and was jailed for four months, suspended for two years, with a year’s supervision by Recorder Mr Andrew Maitland at Exeter Crown Court.
He was cleared of the more serious charge of possession with intent to supply after it emerged he had earned £700 cash seized in the two police raids from scrap metal dealing rather than drugs.
The Recorder suspended the sentence after hearing a verbal report from a probation officer who said he believed Griffiths’ story of being drug free for seven months.
The probation officer said:”The defendant has told me he was introduced to heroin by a friend after the suicide of his partner in around 2008 and before that time he had only smoked cannabis on occasions.
“He described the next few years as a period of self destruction. He says his parents disowned him until last year when his father took him back to his home in Maidstone and held him captive in a caravan for four days to detox him.
“His family rallied around and took him to a private clinic where he had an implant installed. He says his family remain supportive and he wants to move to a farm in North Devon because he thinks the fresh air will help him.
“He fears if he hits hard times he may fall back to drugs and says he needs grief counselling to get over the death of his former partner and will benefit from support in the future.
“He is motivated and comes over as a man who is desperate to get back to where he was before. He tells me he would welcome drug testing.”
Mr Brian FitzHerbert, defending, said the implant was of a drug called Naltrexone, which blocks the effects of heroin and was installed at a clinic in Chiswick.
He said Griffiths himself was so ill due to his detoxification and heavy use of heroin that he could not even remember where he went for the procedure.
Recorder Mr Maitland told Griffiths he had considered an immediate prison term because he has three previous convictions for possession of heroin in the past three years.
He said:”You have done something about your abuse of drugs. You came to heroin much later than most in the circumstances which have been described to me.
“It is quite clear that from 2008 to 2012 you had a very serious heroin addiction and one to which you parents clearly took great exception. With their loving support you have been able to break your habit.
“If you were taking as much heroin as you say you were, I doubt if you could have survived. However, I accept you have managed to break your habit with the support of your family.”