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Pair were found with drugs at their Sedgefield home
A FORMER lawyer and his exgirlfriend caught with a large amount of amphetamine were spared jail yesterday.
Bernard Ridsdale Tombling and Lisa Beatrice Hutchinson, who were last month cleared of dealing the Class B drug, were told they would have been jailed if convicted of the charge.
Recorder Paul Watson, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, said earlier guilty pleas for possession meant he could impose community orders on both defendants.
He said: “Had you been convicted of possession with intent to supply, a custodial sentence would have been unavoidable.”
Tombling and Hutchinson were caught with an estimated £8,000 worth of the drug at the home they shared in Sedgefield , County Durham.
Police found the drugs, together with a number of used needles, when they were called to a report of a disturbance at the house in Wellgarth Mews, on a Sunday morning in March, last year.
It was said they planned to sell the drugs to escort agency clients to “enhance the experience”, but they insisted the 851 grammes of the drug was for personal use only, which was accepted by a jury at Durham Crown Court.
Tombling, 57, now of Thirsk Road, Kirklevington, near Yarm , was previously jailed for four years for defrauding the legal aid board of £170,000, which was said to have helped to furnish a lavish lifestyle, and 15 months for indecently assaulting a client of his oneman solicitor’s practice in Eston, Middlesbrough.
He had represented defendants at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, but was struck off by the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal of the Law Society in July 2000.
Jamie Adams, mitigating for Tombling, said: “I would suggest a community order and maybe some unpaid work.”
Hutchinson, 34, of Wellgarth Mews, Sedgefield, was represented by Scott Smith, who asked the recorder to follow the recommendations of her pre-sentence report, details of which were not read out in open court.
Tombling was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 120 hours of unpaid work, while Hutchinson was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
The judge told Tombling: “Your role was greater than that of your co-accused.”