Five-year jail term for drugs ‘gopher’

Beehind bars: Robert Wooldridge.

Beehind bars: Robert Wooldridge. - Credit: Archant

Dealer, originally from Sidmouth, was ‘petrified of being homeless’, court is told.

A serial drug dealer has been jailed after he returned to crime just four months after being released from his last sentence.

Robert Wooldridge, originally from Sidmouth, went back to heroin dealing because he was terrified of becoming homeless and believed it was the only way he could earn enough money to get a roof over his head.

He was caught with lumps of heroin worth up to £13,000 and incriminating messages and images on his phone when police raided a home he had just moved into in Exeter.

Wooldridge had a fit in the dock during his sentencing hearing, but was treated by ambulance paramedics and was deemed well enough for the case to resume after a 90-minute delay

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The court heard the long-term addict has a list of 54 convictions, mainly for drug dealing, dating back 13 years and has spent most of the past decade in jail.

Wooldridge, of Burnthouse Lane, Exeter, admitted possession of heroin with intent to supply and was jailed for six years by Judge Graham Cottle at Exeter Crown Court.

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He told him:”This happened when you were on licence from your previous sentence. You played a significant role and the drugs were intended to be sold on the streets. You have been to prison several times and are probably becoming institutionalised. The solution is for you to address your problem via the courses and programmes which are available in Her Majesty’s prisons.”

Miss Francesca Whebell, prosecuting, said police raided a home in Exeter shortly after Wooldridge moved in and found a black rucksack containing several lumps of brown rock, which proved to be 135 grams of heroin with a street value of £6,748 - £13,497.

She said he denied any contact with the bag, but forensic tests showed his DNA on the wrapping around the heroin. Wooldridge had been freed from his last sentence in April and was arrested again in August.

Mr Stephen Nunn, defending, said Wooldridge’s life had been destroyed by his addiction to heroin.

He said: “These offences occurred because he was petrified of being homeless and living on the streets. He agreed to act as gopher for those who make far more money out of dealing than he ever did. He knows he should not have been drawn into this. He knows the pitiful effects drugs have had on him and others and the awful effect it has had on his own life and health.”

Wooldridge was jailed for five years and three months on October 4, 2011, after being caught with £7,500 worth of heroin in the car park of Sainsbury’s in Pinhoe Road in September that year.

He agreed to transport and hand over the consignment of drugs for £150 because he needed the money to fund his own habit after his benefits were stopped.

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