Addicts jailed for helping mother take fatal overdose

Posted On 22 Sep 2021 at 12:22 pm

Slattery, left, and Keenan


Two drug addicts have been jailed for helping a mother of two take a fatal overdose of crack and heroin.

Zoe Mitchell, 38, met John Slattery and Keenan James by chance in Brighton last November and spent some time begging with them, before they pooled their money to score the drugs.

James cooked up the drugs and she asked Slattery to help her inject them in an alleyway off Trafalgar Street – but moments later she was unconscious and died a week later.

Sentencing the pair at Lewes Crown Court this afternoon, Judge Christine Laing QC said: “This is a tragic case. Zoe Mitchell was just 38 years old.

“I’m told she was a mother of two children and whatever sadnesses and tragedies in her life that brought her to that alleyway intending to use drugs the court may never know, but it extends its sympathies to her family who no doubt miss her very much.

You both have lived lives blighted by by your addiction to class A drugs.

“The court finds it very concerning but also very sad that you, Keenan James, have watched your friend die through their addiction and you, John Slattery, have lost a leg as a result of your addiction and you’re now confined to a wheelchair, but for neither of you has that acted as an impetus for you to be able to address your problems.

“I do find that a very depressing feature of this case.

“As long term addicts you knew the dangers, risks and harm better than most people.

“On the other hand, I do accept that Zoe Mitchell undoubtedly wanted the drugs and neither of you had any reason to believe that it would have the effect on her that it did.

“I bear very much in mind that when things began to go wrong, both of you immediately tried to help and sought help for her.”

Slattery, 42, of New Steine Mews, was sentenced to 30 months each for manslaughter and administering poison, to run concurrently. James, 35, of Lower Rock Gardens, was given 20 months for supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

Prosecuting Natasha Dardashti said: “All three had bumped into each other and spent some time begging.

“James knew her as she she was a friend of an ex girlfriend of his.

“James could not remember who made the call to the dealer or collected the drugs, but he cooked them up and then divided them between three syringes, passed two to Slattery and then concentrated on taking his own drugs.”

CCTV showed Miss Mitchell putting a tourniquet on her arm and attempting to inject herself before Slattery did it. At interview, Slattery had told police Miss Mitchell had asked him three or four times to help her.

Afterwards, she nodded her head several times before slumping over. James went to help her while Slattery called 999, and paramedics directed James to do CPR over the phone before they arrived.

Defending Slattery, who uses a wheelchair after losing a leg to class A drug use five years years ago, Kevin Bright said: “Zoe Mitchell was both a willing and enthusiastic participant in the agreement to take drugs.

“Mr Slattery assumed she was somebody who used class A drugs.

“He didn’t do this as an act of malice, he had no intention of harming her whatsoever. He believed she was a habitual drug user and he acted in accordance with her instructions.

“He was anxious to make it clear to the police that she showed no signs of being drunk in any way and had she done so, he’s aware of the risks of mixing drink with drugs and he would never have injected her.”

Defending James, Sarah Thorne said: “His remorse and distress are genuine. He has a terrible history of class A drug addiction and he accepts that that is something he has had great difficulties with.

“Sadly, it’s not the first time he’s had to give CPR to someone after an overdose but it’s the first time that someone has died.”

The court was told Slattery had 59 convictions for 108 offences, the most recent from March 2019 for possessing a knife, for which he was jailed for four months. None of the convictions related to class A drugs.

James had 27 convictions for 62 offences, most recently failing to complete a community order. Again, none related to class A drugs.

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