A pair of teenagers who supplied drugs which killed a 16-year-old schoolboy at a youth disco have been spared jail after the victim’s family pleaded for mercy.
Daniel Kennett sold four ecstasy tablets for £10 each to student Luke Campbell-Tapson, who collapsed and died at the dance in Ilfracombe after taking three of them in May last year.
He had obtained them from a 17-year-old friend who bought them on the dark web using bitcoin to cover his tracks.
Kennett, aged 18, and his accomplice had been running the racket for about five months, buying 25 tablets of the drug, also known as MDMA, for £60 and selling them for £10 each.
The teenage dealers were spared immediate jail sentences after Recorder Mr Timothy Rose was sent a plea by Luke’s sister Esther.
She told him the family do not want revenge, did not want two more lives to be ruined, and wanted to work with the boys to educate other young people about the dangers of drugs.
Kennett, of Powlers Piece, Putford, near Torrington, admitted two counts of supplying class A MDMA.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted supplying MDMA on at least 10 occasions between December 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017.
Kennett was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work, and to do 30 days rehabilitation activities.
The youth was curfewed for six months and made subject to a two year youth rehabilitation order.
Both boys sobbed as they were told they were not going to jail.
‘Enormous sensitivity and forgiveness’
The judge praised the dignity and compassion of Luke’s family and said Esther’s letter showed ‘enormous sensitivity and forgiveness’.
He told the boys:”It is clear to me you acted in a way that some young people do, with such immaturity and naivety and a complete failure to understand the danger, let alone the criminality of the circumstances you were creating.
“You did not know what was in the pills. You were taking it on trust. It was reckless in the extreme.
“The death of Luke cannot be over emphasised. It gives this case a far worse complexion than would otherwise be the case.
“The statement from Esther says the family do not want two more lives to be ruined.
“It represents an impassioned plea for you to maintain your freedom with a view to carrying out restorative work with the family.
“You are therefore in receipt of the most extraordinary act of kindness and compassion extended by the family.”
‘We are not here to seek vengeance’
The judge read parts of Esther’s statement, in which she said: “Luke’s loss has left a terrible hole in our lives. We are not here to seek vengeance. We know Luke decided without coercion to take ecstasy tablets.
“They were stronger than he realised. He took too many. He made a terrible mistake. He would not want another person, especially a friend, to be held accountable for what happened.
“We know his death will be with these two boys forever. It seems that is a heavy price to pay for their actions.
“For us to know that two more people have been adversely affected will exacerbate the impact of the offence on us.
“We ask the court to keep their welfare in mind and to consider justice of a restorative nature.
“We hope that by keeping their liberty they can work with us to prevent other young people taking drugs.”
Llewellyn Sellick, prosecuting, said 16-year-old South Molton Community College student Luke bought four tablets off Kennett before going to the youth disco on May 26, 2017.
He was celebrating finishing his exams and leaving school.
He took one before he went, two at the disco, and gave the fourth to a friend. Kennett told him the tablets, nicknamed DEFCONs, were stronger than usual but neither had any real knowledge what they contained.
Kennett made full confessions to police and said he got the MDMA from the youth, who obtained them from the dark web and paid by bitcoin.
He started importing them before Christmas 2016 and Kennett paid him £20 for each batch he sold on to friends and contacts.
Richard Crabb and Paul Grumbar, defending, said both boys were naive, immature, and had no idea of the danger that the drugs posed.
Both are remorseful and Luke’s death has changed their lives, with Kennett becoming depressed and withdrawn and the other boy concentrating on his academic work.