Julian Fleming-Burt, a 35-year-old former DJ, stood in front of an Exeter Crown Court judge for drug possession charges. The Haldon Road, Tiverton, DJ admitted possession of both ecstascy and marijuana—both intended for distribution, he said. This confession of guilt followed a contradictory “bizarre police interview,” according to Express & Echo. Officers arrested the man with large quantities of MDMA, cannabis, and a phone with evidence of drug distribution. Yet, Fleming-Burt claimed everything came from the darknet for personal use—over the course of two or more years.
The defendant pleaded guilty to possesion of a Class A Drug (ecstascy) with intent to distribute and possesion of a Class B Drug (cannabis), also with intent to distribute. Despite the severity of the charges, he managed to avoid serving time. During the hearing, the judge said, “It’s your lucky day. I’m prepared to take a chance to [let you] change your ways.” He continued, “If you don’t, there is only one place you are going to end up, and that’s prison.”
Police stopped the accused while they responded to a domestic dispute call from the man’s house. His partner, court records revealed, called the police regarding an argument. The case prosecutor, Mr. Jonathan Barnes, avoided mentioning details of the fight during the hearing. The domestic dispute brought no additional charges. However, as officers responded to the call, Fleming-Burt left the house and they consequently crossed paths.
Barnes stated that officers stopped and searched the man, found the drugs, and arrested him on the spot. He carried two bags with $3,683 (£3,450) in cash, 40.36 grams of marijuana, and 73.4 grams of MDMA. The prosecutor estimated the value of both drugs at $430 (£403) and $3,128 (£2,930), respectively. Officers on the scene also found Fleming-Burt’s cellphone that later proved completely contradictory of the story detectives initially heard.
After the arrest, Fleming-Burt claimed that he planned to use all of the drugs in his possession. Even though the amount of MDMA seemed a little much for personal use, he created a plan where he would consume the drugs over up to three years. He additionally explained that he purchased all $3,500 worth of drugs for $672 (£630) on the darknet. A confession to the distribution only surfaced once the detectives mentioned the phone. He then told the officers, “you’ve got me bang to rights. I will just go and kill myself quietly.”
The lenient sentence came from the defense’s depiction of Fleming-Burt’s life, the Crown Court judge said. Julia Cox, the defense attorney, told the judge that Fleming-Burt struggled financially at the time of the arrest and during the hearing. She said that he fell behind and found himself unable to catch back up after developing “his own MDMA habit.” Additionally, she said, he had trouble with the money spent on “maintenance he pays for his young daughter.”
When Fleming-Burt worked 72 hours every week, he made nearly enough to survive on. He still fell short of paying the debts that he owed and supporting his daughter. That, she explained, caused her client to start selling drugs.
He owed a local drug dealer $3,736 (£3,500) for ecstasy used to fuel his own habit. The addiction, Cox explained, developed while Fleming-Burt worked as a DJ. He “but is now working with the addiction service to address his drug problems,” she added before she asked for probation instead of jail-time. He needed to pay off his debts and support his daughter.
The judge listened and gave the defendant a “lucky day” to change paths:
“It’s your lucky day. I am prepared to take a chance to change your ways. If you do not, there is only one place you are going to end up, and that is prison. You have a young daughter whom you need to spend much time with, and you can continue to do your good work with the client you care for. You found yourself in financial difficulties, but that was no excuse to push drugs. Lots of people have financial difficulties and do not resort to crime.”
Fleming-Burt received two years in jail, suspended upon completion of two years on probation—with special requirements. The judge called for, in addition to standard probation, 240 hours of community service and 25 days of drug rehabilitation.