A man who was sent to prison today (Thursday) for drugs-related offences was warned by a judge that he risks facing longer periods in jail if he fails to address his addiction issues.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC was due to sentence “troubled young man” Ryan Best this January for three separate sets of offences linked to his drug use, but deferred sentencing to allow the 22-year-old to seek treatment for his substance issues.
Best appeared at Belfast Crown Court today for the deferral hearing, but after it emerged that he has not engaged with services offering treatment, has come to police attention and was not the recipient of a positive pre-sentence report, Judge Kerr said he was left with no option but to impose a prison sentence.
Best, from Fairview Road in Newtownabbey, initially appeared in court in January, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary as well as drugs offences linked to conveying cocaine and cannabis into Hydebank YOC.
He admitted breaking into a house at Carnreagh Bend in Newtownabbey in March 2015 and stealing prescription medication, as well as targeting a second house in the area in May 2016 with the intention of stealing jewellery.
Best also pleaded guilty to bringing drugs into Hydebank in June 2014, as well as possessing the drugs.
At today’s deferred sentence hearing, defence barrister Jon Paul Shields told Judge Kerr that his client had both addiction and mental health issues, and that since January Best “has not been able to cope with stresses in his life and has not been able to stabilise.”
Mr Shields also confirmed that Best has been arrested for several alleged incidents which have occurred since January, including the attempted theft of a charity box in Ballymena.
Judge Kerr said that while he felt in January that Best was a “young man who would benefit from a deferred sentence” in a bid to address his addiction and offending, it was clear this had not happened.
Best was handed a two-year sentence, half of which will be spend in prison with the remaining year spent on licence.
Branding Best a “troubled young man”, Judge Kerr expressed the hope he will be treated for both his mental health and addiction issues during his time on licence.
The Judge concluded by telling Best: “If this type of offending continues, the sentences imposed will be increasingly longer.”