Judge Robert Pawson, at a sentencing hearing in Swindon Crown Court, sentenced a heavy user of ecstasy to nothing but a suspended sentence after hearing how a near death experience had changed the (now former) drug user’s outlook on life.
Steven Hancock, 46, frequently purchased ecstasy pills on the darknet throughout 2017 and perhaps even earlier than 2017. He told the court that he heavily used both ecstasy and marijuana. The man explained that sometimes he took as many as five pills every night. Despite his heavy drug use, Hancock maintained a steady job and seemingly dealt with his rent and other bills on time.
Both his employer and his landlord attended the hearing to show their support for Hancock. The presence of his landlord and boss—in light of the situation Hancock’s actions had placed him in—had a tremendous impact on Judge Pawson. Not only did the men voice their support for Hancock as a person and employee, they wrote letters that further backed up their claims. What may have had the most significant impact on the case, though, was an epiphany Hancock had experienced while in the hospital in December.
Even after his March 2017 arrest, Hancock continued his so-called “hard core drug use.” By all accounts, Hancock maintained his borderline terrifying ecstasy abuse until December. In December, likely exacerbated by his increased intake of tobacco and marijuana, Hancock suffered from an intense case of pneumonia. While sick, Hancock suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest and had a near death experience as his heart stopped beating.
Medical professionals saved his life. After leaving the hospital, Hancock said, he stopped smoking and using drugs. Hancock’s defender, Richard Williams, told the court that Hancock had experienced an epiphany. Near death experiences have routinely changed the lives of those who have experienced the pivotal moment before death where “one’s life flashes before their eyes.”
Prosecutor Alistair Hegarty explained that authorities seized the first package in March 2017. The package contained 52 ecstasy pills and a supplier in Amsterdam had shipped it to Hancock’s Pinehurst home. One month later, authorities seized another package from the same vendor. Shipped, of course, to the same address. The package contained 54 ecstasy pills. The police then raided Hancock’s home where they discovered ecstasy, marijuana, an incriminating cell phone, and Hancock himself.
Hancock had no objections to the police’s questions. He told them that he had been buying drugs online—with bitcoin—for heavy personal use. He did admit, however, that he sometimes gave ecstasy pills to his friends who wanted it or felt the need to have ecstasy. He reinforced that he had not profited from any of the drugs and that he had purchased them exclusively for personal use. Hancock pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and ecstasy and to two counts of fraudulently evading prohibition.
Judge Robert Pawson suspended the man’s sentence and pointed out that a report indicated Hancock had a very low chance of offending again.