A talented college dropout who ruined his life with heavy drinking and drug use missed the perfect opportunity to turn the tide. Tom Waller, 34, dropped out of social work at the University of Hull and was arrested for robbery in 2013.
After his release from prison, a housing association helped him get a job as a digital marketing executive, but unfortunately he relapsed. When he turned to street trading, Tom “let down a lot of people” but was “essentially a decent person badly out of joint,” the Hull Crown Court heard.
On 21 October 2021, Waller, of Beverley Road, Hull, and Stephen Pickett, 21, of Guiseley, Leeds, admitted possessing heroin and crack with intent to supply. Waller also admitted to possessing heroin and a psychoactive substance with intent to supply and possessing cannabis, methadone and £541 cash as criminal property on November 15, 2019, reports Hull Live.
Prosecutor Stephen Robinson said Waller went to Tesco to buy some groceries but after realizing he had forgotten his wallet he returned to the store. An employee had checked the wallet to identify the owner and found a large amount of cash, £541, pills and empty plastic bags.
Waller was arrested and found about 1,900 pills containing psychoactive substances and just over a kilo of heroin worth £19,800, along with blenders, cannabis, methadone, scales and plastic bags.
In the later incident, which also involved Pickett, police saw Waller approach a drug user in Queens Road, Hull. He was searched and found with two packs of heroin and a pack of crack and £20 cash. Police went to the premises on Beverly Road where Waller had come from and Pickett was in the bathroom.
They found a bag containing 17 packs of heroin and cocaine. Pickett was searched and had £1,240 in cash on him. Waller had been convicted of four previous offenses, including possession of cannabis and dishonesty, and he had been sentenced to five years in prison for robbery and attempted robbery in 2013.
Pickett was convicted of 22 prior felonies, primarily traffic violations and violating court orders. Richard Thompson mitigated that Waller completed a two-year degree in social work at the University of Hull.
“He became involved in drug use, which seriously interfered with his studies,” said Mr. Thompson. Waller was jailed for robbery and attempted robbery in 2013, but was released from prison in September 2015 and “thought that was the end and he’d done well during his sentence.”
He became involved with a local company that took in ex-offenders and worked as a digital marketing executive for a Willerby-based company. “He was drug free, he was given his own accommodation in the Willerby area and he was doing very well,” Mr Thompson said.
Waller became “a little lonely and isolated” and his only company were work colleagues, some of them ex-felons and prisoners nearing the end of their life sentences. “He started drinking and figured alcohol wouldn’t be a problem,” said Mr. Thompson.
“He started drinking heavily, hanging out with his co-workers and taking recreational drugs, and now he realizes he was on a slippery slope. He became involved in heavier drug use, Class A drugs, and got into debt.
“By November 2019 he was in bad shape. He had lost his job by then. He started selling tablets to pay off his debts. He would like to complete his studies.”
Ben Hammersley, representing Pickett, said the defendant was a recent drug user but had accumulated a significant debt load. He had shown genuine remorse.
His parents were both drug users, he came from a difficult background and was adopted. He wanted to go back to college to do catering qualifications.
“He is determined not to fall back into the cycle of insult and re-imprisonment,” Mr Hammersley said. Judge Mark Bury told Waller, “You are essentially a decent person who has been severely deranged by your own addictive personality.”
Waller had been offered a chance by a housing association and lived in a “nicely clean” flat, but he allowed it to be taken over by Leeds drug dealers. “You have failed many people, including yourself, by going back to drugs in a big way,” Judge Bury said.
Pickett was told to come and “sit house” and deal drugs out of the apartment, but Waller “did all the legwork.” Pickett had only arrived the day before his arrest but was carrying £1,240 in cash, which was already a lot of business.
Waller was jailed for three years and Pickett jailed for two years.
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