'Corner shop' Consett drug dealer jailed for five years, but partner spared

The Advertiser Series: Durham Crown Court Durham Crown Court

A MAN who ran a “corner shop” drug dealing business has been jailed for five years.

But despite his sentence, William Armstrong was jubilant at Durham Crown Court today (Friday, December 13) after his partner, Carole Gunnion, who helped him run the illegal operation, was spared an immediate prison sentence.

The pair kissed and hugged in the dock after Recorder Euan Duff agreed to suspend Gunnion’s two-year term for a period of two years, partly so she can care for her children.

Police raided the couple’s home, on North View, Blackhill, Consett, in the early hours of February 7, Michael Graham, prosecuting, said, finding cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamine and cannabis with a combined street value of £12,350.

While Armstrong, 47, remained silent in police interview, Gunnion, 46, told officers her partner was a drug dealer and she helped him because “she loved him”.

Armstrong ran a “corner shop for drugs” selling from home as well as in a local pub, Mr Graham added.

The couple both pleaded guilty to four charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply, two at class A and two at class B.

Tony Davis, for Armstrong, said his client’s profits “weren’t great” and as a result he had no assets, he regretted involving Gunnion and was realistic about his sentence.

Rachel Hedworth, for Gunnion, said her client was of previous good character, could not have been more co-operative with the police, was suffering severe financial hardship at the time and would benefit from help from the Probation Service.

Sentencing, Recorder Duff told Armstrong he had an appalling record for drug dealing.

“This wasn’t casual or short-term dealing. You made a decision to be a drug dealer and run a business over a period of time,” he said.

However, turning to Gunnion, he said he was convinced she would not have become involved were it not for her partnership with Armstrong and he could “just” suspend an immediate prison sentence.

Cash totalling £2,820 seized from the couple’s home was forfeited, while the drugs and paraphernalia will be destroyed.

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