Ottery teen who feared going blind and turned to drug dealing to pay medical bills is jailed

Lewis Rawlinson

Lewis Rawlinson - Credit: Archant

Lewis Rawlinson, 19, admitted smuggling MDMA and ketamine in October, and possessing MDMA, LSD and diazepam with intent to supply in September, when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court - Credit: Archant

A teenager from Ottery St Mary who feared he was going blind has been jailed after he turned to drug dealing to pay for Harley Street treatment.

Lewis Rawlinson imported drugs which he bought on the dark web and had previously been caught selling ecstasy and LSD at the Lockdown Festival at Powderham Castle, Exeter Crown Court heard.

He was using the profits to pay for private medical treatment for a dermatological condition and a progressive illness called Meibomian Eye Dysfunction, which he believed could not be treated properly on the NHS.

Rawlinson, 19, of Pixie Walk, Ottery, spent more than £1,000 travelling from his home to specialist dry eye clinics in London and paid £500 for a Harley Street consultation.

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He admitted smuggling ecstasy (MDMA) and ketamine in October last year when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court this week.

Rawlinson also admitted possession with intent to supply MDMA, LSD, diazepam, and of alprozolam at Lockdown Festival in September and possession of £2,250 of criminal property.

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He was jailed for a total of five-and-a-half years in a young offenders’ institution by Recorder Mr Andrew Maitland, who ordered him to forfeit the drugs and the £2,250.

The recorder told Rawlinson: “This was a strange case because you were seeking to raise money to meet medical bills for an eye condition which I accept you were suffering from. The fact that you chose to do that in this way has brought you to court. You placed an order for drugs and your name and address were on the package. You were bringing these substances to the British drugs scene.”

Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said a security guard at the Lockdown Festival, on September 10 last year, was tipped off about a man selling drugs who was wearing a distinctive Australian-style hat. He tried to talk to him, but Rawlinson ran away through tents before being tackled to the ground and found with drugs in a bumbag.

His home was searched and in all 50 MDMA, 18 LSD, and 72 diazepam tablets were found along with a tiny amount of alprozolam and £2,250 cash.

Rawlinson was bailed and on October 5 customs intercepted a package being sent from Holland to his home containing 510 tablets and 149 grams of MDMA and 55.24 grams of ketamine.

The MDMA had a wholesale value of £2,100, but could have been sold on the streets for £11,000, the court heard. The ketamine was valued at £600.

Miss Eagles said: “We do not know when the drugs were ordered or when they were dispatched, but it appears they were ordered on the dark web.

“A smartphone was seized when he was arrested at the Lockdown Festival, but he refused to give police the PIN number, so we don’t know what information it may have contained.”

Mr Jonathan Barnes, defending, said Rawlinson ordered the drugs on the internet without realising he was committing the very serious offence of smuggling them into Britain. He said: “This was not the same as large-scale importation or bringing in large quantities with boats or aeroplanes. What led to this was his need for money to pay for private treatment.

“He was so worried at his medical condition that he was incurring fees for private treatment. Unfortunately, he saw this activity as a solution.

“He is determined to use his time in prison well and is due to retake his A-levels in July, which he hopes to do even if he is in custody.”

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