A drug dealer described as a “persistent scourge” to her community has been jailed for six years after she paid a man to take the blame for her illegal activities.
Vicki Bentley, 42, persuaded the petty criminal to hand himself in to police and “take the rap” after a stash of heroin and crack cocaine was found by police at her home in Swarcliffe Leeds.
Bentley, who has a 20-year criminal record for dishonesty and drug dealing, was told her behaviour wrecked lives after pleading guilty to two offences of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and possession of criminal property.
Leeds Crown Court heard Bentley’s home, on Langbar Place, Swarcliffe, was raided in March 2009 and 35 small bags containing the drugs were found along with £5,000 in cash.
Two months later a 34-year-old man, who cannot be named, went to Stainbeck police station claiming the drugs were his. He told officers he had gone into her home and put the drugs in her handbag without her noticing.
The man also said he had bought the stash out of £5,000 his family had given him after winning the lottery.
But in a statement from the man’s mother, read to the court at an earlier hearing, he is said to have confided during a phone call from prison that Bentley paid him £5,000 to “take the rap”.
The court also heard of another occasion in which a man had been convicted of lying to police that drugs found in her home belonged to him.
Bentley’s boyfriend, John Nicholson, of Swarcliffe Avenue, Swarcliffe, was jailed for four years yesterday after pleading guilty to possessing a class A drug with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.
Heroin with a street value of £500, along with just over £2,000 in cash was found when police raided his home on the same day as Bentley’s.
Bentley, a mother of one, tried to claim that she was a drug user herself and was only involved in dealing to fund her own habit.
But Recorder Sandiford told her he was satisfied she was a commercial dealer supplying for profit.
He said: “One only has to sit in these courts from day to day to realise that they wreck the lives of those who use them, the lives of their children and the lives of their families who have to put up with them.”
The court heard Nicholson’s offending was separate from his partner’s.
He had a lengthy criminal history but had reverted to dealing after becoming hooked on heroin after a long time being free of the drugs.
The 34-year-old man was jailed for nine months for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
After the hearing, Det Sgt Mark Holberry told the YEP: “Vicki Bentley has been a persistent scourge in the community of Swarcliffe for a considerable time and today her persistent attempts at avoiding justice have come to an end.
“Her imprisonment should serve as a demonstration that those who feel they are above the law are simply not and will be identified, arrested and brought before the courts.”