South Yorkshire man one of first in country to be sentenced over legal highs

Kevin Hancock
Kevin Hancock
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A South Yorkshire man has become one of the first - if not the first - to be prosecuted over the supply of drugs formerly known as 'legal highs'.

Kevin Hancock, 40, from Rotherham, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday after he admitted possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply.

He was prosecuted under new legislation introduced in May last year, which criminalised the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances.

Hancock, who was jailed for 12 months, also pleaded guilty to possession of a Class A drug and shoplifting.

When he was arrested for shoplifting he told officers it was a deliberate ploy so that he could sell the psychoactive substance Spice in prison.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Graham Bulmer, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The whole point of the change in law was to clamp down on those supplying these dangerous substances by creating a blanket ban and limiting the opportunities for criminals to bypass the law.

“One of the main aspects of the change was to make it illegal to possess or supply psychoactive substances in prison and Hancock told officers that he’d deliberately got arrested for shoplifting so that he could make more money selling Spice in prison.

“This new legislation can only help us in our fight to protect and educate vulnerable people about illegal and untested substances and punish those, like Hancock, who use psychoactive substances for their own gain."

Hancock was arrested for stealing a bottle of whiskey from the Tesco store on Drummond Street in Rotherham last June.

When he was searched officers found a quantity of heroin inside a kinder egg. They also found Spice.

DCI Bulmer added: “Previously, when a product was suspected as being a so-called ‘legal high’, it had to go through a lengthy testing process before it could be banned and classed as illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“As a result, manufacturers could alter the chemical composition for it to fall outside the law.

“Now, where a substance is suspected to produce a psychoactive effect, it is tested against a national database of products and in this case, the product proved to be Spice triggering the new sentencing guidelines.

“I hope this case sends a strong message to anyone who is thinking about supplying psychoactive substances that South Yorkshire Police does not and will not tolerate any form of controlled drug supply.”

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