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Probation and community service for men who provided drugs to friend who tragically passed away

'This was supposed to be a good night out, this was supposed to be a bit of craic but unfortunately for Max it wiped him out. This is something that these men are going to have to live with their whole lives, the realisation of the part they played in the death of a friend'

Newry courthouse police

Two men who supplied drugs to a 17-year-old friend who tragically passed away have been sentenced to community service and probation.

In sentencing the defendants, the district judge stated: “It will not bring back Max but if they can dedicate the work that they carry out during their sentence in his memory, they will be able to keep him to the fore.”

Jamie Flack, 21, of Pinley Meadown in Banbridge, appeared for sentencing on possession of class B, possession of Class B with intent to supply, supplying Class B and being concerned in the offer to supply Class B at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sam James McCallister, 21, of Glascar Road, Ballinaskeagh, also awaited sentencing on possession of Class B with intent to supply, possession of Class A, two counts of possession of Class B and supplying Class B.

Prosecution outlined that on September 15, of last year, at 10.30pm, the Northern Ireland Ambulance service received a report of an unconscious 17-year-old male.

Police and ambulance arrived at the address but upon arrival the young man, identified as Max Wilson, was pronounced deceased.

Inquiries revealed that the previous night, Max had gone to an event at Narrow Water Castle in Warrenpoint with a number of friends.

Police spoke with the two defendants who were present at the same address, as Max’s parents were away.

McCallister told officers that he spent all of the previous day with his friend Max. He stated they had attended a rave at Narrow Water Castle, where they had consumed drugs.

This defendant admitted to having concealed ketamine within his trousers before entering the event.

Meanwhile, Flack admitted to police that he had driven to an address in Banbridge in order to purchase ketamine which he split with the co-defendant.

A search was conducted of McCallister’s home, during which cannabis and scales were located. A subsequent search of Flack’s address proved negative.

Both defendants’ phones were seized with videos and messages demonstrating drug use and supply evident.

When interviewed, McCallister made full admissions to the offences. Flack admitted to driving to get the drugs as he knew someone who could provide them but refused to provide any further detail.

Prosecution commented that both defendants’ records were short but relevant, with the two men having prior for possession of Class B and McCallister also having an entry for possession of Class A.

Representing Flack, defence barrister Justin Byrne stated: “This has served as a salutary lesson given the tragic consequences, although it would appear Max’s death was linked with him taking insulin not directly to the drugs.

“In the presentence report, this can be seen in how Mr Flack does not want to talk about it in great detail. He also outlines how he now takes no involvement with drugs.”

He continued: “He has been assessed as having a medium likelihood of re-offending, although I think that is due to the number of charges and his previous record.

“This was a plea at the earliest opportunity and he has consented to both community service and probation. This was in September of last year and he has remained out of trouble since.”

McCallister’s barrister Conor Lunny  stated: “I endorse all the points made by Mr Bryne. Mr McCallister  was particularly close to the deceased having played football with him for a number of years.

“This defendant is in fact still in the grieving process, although it would appear that the family of the deceased do not bear any grudges.”

He continued: “This is something of a watershed in his life. He was a man who was prone to party, that is clear, but he has since cut down to enjoying a few beers every few weekends.

“One would hope that this has been a chastening experience and I would not expect Mr McCallister to darken the door of any court in future, although the proof is in the pudding.”

District Judge Eamon King stated: “I have been sitting in this chair for 15 years and on countless times I have tried to emphasise to young people here before the court as to the dangers involved in experimenting with illicit substances.

“I have also sat in the juvenile court, having young people appear before me, bright, fresh and their full life ahead of them. I warned them of the issue and over the years I have seen the effects of experimenting with drugs.”

He added: “Over the years, what is just a bit of crack or only a bit of blow, leads those young people into despair or in some cases tragedy.”

District Judge King stated: “The two men before me are described in the presentence reports as young men who have substantial ability and potential. They have pleaded guilty to possession of drugs, some of which they shared with their friend. He is no longer with us and his name was Max Wilson, he was just 17 years of age at the time.

“In September of last year, all three of them went to attend a rave and they all would have been looking forward to it. However, it is a sad reflection of out society that young people attending such an event feel the need to be under the influence of a substance.”

He continued: “This is not some fella on drugs at the Newry Quays, or in a back street in Banbridge or a car park with a dark alley. These are two young individuals described as coming from very safe secure backgrounds.

“They do not fit the stereotype. Not young fellas with skinhead haircuts, with chapped lips and tattoos. No they appear before me in three piece suits having come from work. It is the perfect illustration of how deep, how ingrained drugs are within our society in Northern Ireland.”

District Judge King stated: “This was supposed to be a good night out, this was supposed to be a bit of craic but unfortunately for Max it wiped him out. This is something that these men are going to have to live with their whole lives, the realisation of the part they played in the death of a friend.”

Commenting on the presentence reports, he said: “Mr Flack has said he did not want to discuss the details but is that not a cowardly approach, not to be open and honest about the part he played?

“Mr McCallister now says that he has abstained from drugs as a result of what happened last September. If only Max Wilson had that opportunity.”

The district judge continued: “I am convinced that a community disposal is the better option. It will give these two gentlemen the opportunity to have the supervision and advice of the the probation service.

“It will not bring back Max but if they can dedicate the work that they carry out during their sentence in his memory, they will be able to keep him to the fore.”

Both defendants were sentenced to an enhanced combination order consisting of one years probation and 100 hours of community service.

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