Vulnerable man who was groomed by UK gang to smuggle drugs to Jersey is jailed

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Steven David Herring (30), who was described by a family member as having a child’s mind in a man’s body, appeared in the Royal Court yesterday after being apprehended last October shortly after arriving in Jersey on an easyJet flight from Liverpool.

The court heard that Herring was particularly susceptible to suggestion and was targeted to be a courier due to his willingness to comply.

Advocate Allana Binnie, defending, said the case was a sad one involving a young man who had no part to play in the organisation of the plot.

Referring to how he had been used and targeted by the gang involved, she said: ‘He was taken out by them and bought items and he thought it was all genuine until he was told of the plan to bring drugs into Jersey.’

She added that, at that point, her client knew he was ‘in too deep’ and was aware of the power of the people involved.

Advocate Binnie urged the court to sentence Herring to 480 hours of community service – the longest community service sentence available to the court. She also referred to the way in which his development as an adult had been further impaired when his father abandoned him. She said that his father had promised him a reference before his sentencing but this was never received.

In October last year, Herring was stopped by Customs officers, who he told that he would be in the Island for four days to see his girlfriend and attend a party.

He added that he had pre-booked a taxi to a guesthouse but was unable to say where his girlfriend lived.

Officers then swabbed his phone and a positive indication was provided for cocaine. Despite initially denying that he used drugs, he then admitted to having taken a line of cocaine days earlier.

His belongings were then searched and he denied having anything illegal with him. He was x-rayed but the results of the scan were inconclusive. However, he later admitted that he had three packages inside him.

These later turned out to be 82.4g of 74% purity heroin with a street value of between £41,000 and £82,000.

Crown Advocate Chris Baglin, prosecuting, then drew on expert reports which outlined Herring’s difficult background and ‘complex’ psychological state.

According to one report referred to in court, Herring suffers from Klinefelter syndrome – which can lead to impaired social skills, emotional immaturity and impulsivity and limited problem-solving skills. The court also said he demonstrated significant autistic traits and had an IQ of 85, classifying him in the bottom 16% of the population.

Advocate Baglin said these were all factors which would have made him susceptible to agreeing to import the packages without realising the potential consequences his action. He then suggested a sentence of five years in prison.

Delivering the court’s sentence, Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, said: ‘The assessment of suggestibility has placed you in the top 4% of the population which means you are exceptionally open to suggestion, compared to most people.

‘In terms of compliance, you are in the top 2% of the population which makes you exceptionally liable to giving way to other people in your life.

‘So you were a vulnerable man who was completely out of your depth and targeted for your vulnerabilities in this mission to bring class A drugs to Jersey.’

He also paid credit to the man’s family, who provided ‘exceptionally moving’ references which he said put his offending into context.

Jurats Charles Blampied, Jane Ronge and Pamela Pitman were sitting.

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