A ROTHERHAM man has become one of the first in the country to be sentenced for supplying so-called legal highs.
Kevin Hancock (40), of no fixed abode, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday) after admitting possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply.
He was charged under new legislation brought in last May.
Hancock also pleaded guilty to possession of a Class A drug and shoplifting and was sentenced to 12 months behind bars.
"Hancock told officers that he’d deliberately got arrested for shoplifting so that he could make more money selling Spice in prison."
Acting Det Ch Insp Graham Bulmer
At around 1.20pm on Wednesday, June 15, last year, Hancock was seen acting suspiciously at the Tesco store on Drummond Street, in the town centre.
He was seen stealing a bottle of whisky and caught on CCTV handing small tablets to two other men before all three consumed the tablets.
Police were called to the store and Hancock was arrested for shoplifting and taken into custody where he was searched.
Officers found a quantity of heroin inside a Kinder Egg and Hancock was arrested for possession of a controlled drug.
Further searches resulted in other substances being found on Hancock, including Spice, a listed psychoactive active substance.
Under the Psychoactive Substances Act anyone caught supplying or selling psychoactive substances could face up to seven years in prison.
Acting Det Ch Insp Graham Bulmer, force lead for drugs, said: “The whole point of the change in law was to clamp down on those supplying these dangerous substances by creating a blanket ban and limiting the opportunities for criminals to bypass the law.
“One of the main aspects of the change was to make it illegal to possess or supply psychoactive substances in prison and Hancock told officers that he’d deliberately got arrested for shoplifting so that he could make more money selling Spice in prison.
“This new legislation can only help us in our fight to protect and educate vulnerable people about illegal and untested substances and punish those, like Hancock, who use psychoactive substances for their own gain.
“Previously, when a product was suspected as being a so-called legal high, it had to go through a lengthy testing process before it could be banned and classed as illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
“As a result, manufacturers could alter the chemical composition for it to fall outside the law.
“Now, where a substance is suspected to produce a psychoactive effect, it is tested against a national database of products and in this case, the product proved to be Spice triggering the new sentencing guidelines.
“I hope this case sends a strong message to anyone who is thinking about supplying psychoactive substances that South Yorkshire Police does not and will not tolerate any form of controlled drug supply.”
Anyone wishing to report the sale of psychoactive substances should call police on 101.