Married couple both sentenced for drug charges

By Paul Hardman   |   Reporter   |
Friday 9th September 2022 10:59 am
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Exterior view of the Isle of Man Courthouse in Douglas - (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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A married couple have been handed prison sentences for importing drugs to the island.

Elizabeth Josephine Forster (formerly Barton), pleaded guilty to importing a package containing 1,004 grams of cannabis in October 2020, valued at around £24,000.

Deemster Graeme Cook sentenced the 43-year-old to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, only sparing her from immediate custody because of her seriously ill child.

Meanwhile her husband James Liam Forster, aged 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of importing cocaine, for which he was handed a prison sentence of four years and one month (becoming eligible for parole halfway through, and automatically released at two thirds of the sentence).

For the first count, he admitted agreeing to have a parcel delivered to his home address in September 2020 which contained 26.1 grams of cocaine, valued at £2,600 and of 31% purity.

He also admitted that a second amount, of 1.4 grams, valued at £140, was ordered by him for personal use.

Defence advocate Jim Travers said that he was a ‘fish out of water’ at this level of offending, and that his ‘naivety was exploited by those higher up in the criminal hierarchy’.

He added that this was shown by the fact he was only paid a £300 reward by the sender in England for receiving the package, adding that his long-term mental health issues had made him ‘a sitting duck’ for exploitation for criminals.

Mr Travers went on to say that in his guilty plea Mr Forster described himself as being ‘manipulated and pressured, though not under duress’.

In sentencing him, Deemster Cook said to Mr Forster that for such a serious first offence: ‘This has been a lesson you have learned hard, and indeed are going to learn hard.’

Police examination of a phone shared by the couple found messages relating to drug dealing, such as those stating ‘yeah bro I’ll take the q off you’ and references to ‘graft’ (slang for work or in this case drug dealing).

There were also pictures taken of postal vans leaving the sorting office, and a note which contained a ‘checklist’ of drug amounts.

Despite the mitigating factors of Mrs Forster’s personal circumstances, Deemster Cook said that aggravating factors included a previous conviction for drug trafficking in 2008, and the fact that the large amount of cannabis meant that it was inevitably meant to be passed on to another party.

‘You are fortunate not to be joining Mr Forster behind that door today,’ said Deemster Cook.