Lockdown breaker caught dealing cannabis in Barnstaple

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A cannabis dealer was caught with drugs and cash after police saw him breaking lockdown to meet his customers in a public street.

Ryan Ritchie was observed taking a bundle of cash and handing over herbal matter in a green nappy bag in Victoria Street, Barnstaple exactly a month into the first lockdown last year.

Police found cannabis worth £30 in the pants of one of the men he had just met and £400 cash on Ritchie. Another 93 grams of cannabis was found at his home along with £1,800 cash.

He became a dealer after self-medicating with cannabis to treat depression after he became so stressed while managing a car hire firm that he lost his job.

Officers found manuals on cannabis growing and cultivation equipment at his home but no actual plants, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Ritchie, aged 37, of Cyprus Terrace, Barnstaple, admitted supply and possession with intent to supply of class B cannabis.

He was jailed for six months, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work by Recorder Mr Timothy Kenefick.

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He told him: “You have never been in trouble before. I have heard how you got involved with cannabis and the pre-sentence report assesses you as a low risk of re-offending.

“You are now working hard at turning your life around and are about to embark on a new start. The references talk about you being in a bad place mentally at the time you offended, having lost your job.”

Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said police saw Ritchie meeting a group of men in Victoria Road, Barnstaple, at 2.30 pm on April 23 last year.

They saw him receive cash and hand over a nappy bag which was later found inside the trousers of one of the other men. He had £400 cash.

Cannabis worth about £850 and £1,800 cash were found at his home and texts on his phone showed he had been dealing for a couple of months.

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Ritchie had been a law-abiding and hard-working man until he was over-promoted to be manager at a car hire firm and could not cope with the pressure.

He lost his job and began using cannabis to self-medicate, leading him to start supplying a small group of friends. He is now back at work and is using naturopathic remedies instead of cannabis.

He is planning to move from North Devon to live closer to his parents in Leicestershire.

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