On January 20, Toby Charles William Fairall pleaded guilty to three marijuana crimes: importation, possession with intent to distribute, and involvement in the distribution of a Class-B drug. The 19-year-old, according to the prosecutor, studied both marijuana and the darknet for months if not longer, before making 26 purchases. Authorities intercepted a package in December 2015, and after Fairall had ordered once more in January 2016, law enforcement made their move.
Judge Susan Evans of Salisbury Crown Court listened to an earful of evidence from Simon Edwards, the case prosecutor. She similarly heard, from the defense attorney, reasons to show the teenager mercy. In the end, Judge Evans said, the leniency she showed came from the quick acceptance of guilt from Fairall. He told investigators, after the arrest, that he felt terrified by the crimes he committed.
The case prosecutor, Simon Edwards, explained that authorities obtained evidence about Fairall’s darknet activity. In addition to intercepting the package in December, law enforcement discovered that the marijuana came from a darknet marketplace. The defendant studied online anonymity to avoid detection, Edwards said. He learned how to access the darknet with a special browser, the very prosecutor explained. Further investigation revealed that Fairall bought the marijuana from the now-defunct Agora marketplace.
Agora used to be “the largest drug market on the dark net,” DeepDot wrote. “BTCfog publicly showed support of Agora when it first launched (It used to be a very trusted source); since then, this dark net market has proven itself to be ultra-reliable on more than one occasion.” Long after the marketplace built a steady userbase with an excellent reputation, admins announced a temporary pause “in order to deal with major security concerns.” The pause, whether an exit scam or a genuine security issue, never ended. After enough time passed to safely assume the marketplace would not return, Agora landed on the list of dead marketplaces.
The marketplace vanished in late 2015. The UK Border Force seized a package in December, and according to Edwards, seized another in 2016. The 2016 order, he explained, landed on January 30, 2016. If the defendant received an order “every three weeks,” as the evidence suggested, Fairall made two or more orders outside of Agora. He, like the majority of former Agora users, likely turned to one of the top alternative marketplaces. Regardless, investigators extracted evidence that proved the 19-year-old spent $18,508 on bitcoins. He spent the bitcoins on darknet marketplaces—solely on marijuana—over the course of five months.
Fairall admitted that he purchased the $18,508 worth of marijuana for distribution. He never made a profit, though, he told the court. Towards the end of his days as a drug dealer, he said that he smoked most of the marijuana. But right before the last package, he aimed to turn his life around. Fairell made certain the court heard that he planned on selling the 500 grams of marijuana police found at his house. His lawyer, Guy Ladenburg, stood behind these claims.
Ladenburg asked for mercy from the judge as his client made strides towards turning his life around. He voiced his opinion regarding the young man’s disability as well; Fairall “was 80 percent deaf in one ear and 20 percent in the other.”
Judge Evans agreed that Fairall could not smoke 500 grams of marijuana within three weeks—the time between orders. He distributed some of it, she announced. However, the Salisbury Crown Court judge saw that the 19-year-old used marijuana too, just not all $18,000. She believed Ladenburg’s claims made in defense of the teenager. He revealed that Fairall voluntarily took drug tests on a routine basis and held a steady job. In many cases, no matter the circumstances, arguments based on a change of heart would fall on deaf ears. However, this case resulted in a merciful outcome, Judge Evans said.
She convicted him of drug possession, importation, and intent to supply. The charges resulted in an unexpected punishment, though; instead of jail time, she sentenced Fairall to 200 hours of community service and a fine of $940.