‘Vulnerable’ woman from Burnley hid dealer boyfriend’s drugs in bra during raid

Laura Rickwood, who was spared jail

Luke Gorton

Adam Rickwood

First published in News by , Court reporter

THE sister of the youngest person to die in custody in the country was spared jail for getting ‘caught up’ in her partner’s heroin supply business, while he has been locked up for three years.

Burnley Crown Court heard how ‘vulnerable’ Laura Rickwood, 22, hid drugs in her bra when police raided her Greenock Close home in the town in February last year.

Her street dealer boyfriend Luke Gorton, 29, had drugs and paraphernalia at the property, and officers seized five mobile phones.

The hearing was told how Gorton accepted all the drugs were his, said Rickwood became involved because of him, would not have done so if she had not been in a relationship with him and put the heroin in her bra to protect him when police turned up. Gorton had been selling heroin to pay off a drugs debt and fund his cocaine habit.

Gorton, also of Greenock Close, Burnley, had admitted supplying heroin between last January and February, theft of a £7,500 quad bike and £700 generator from a farm in Cumbria last May and breaching a community order. He has 31 previous offences on record, including production of cannabis.

Rickwood, whose brother Adam, 14, took his own life at Hassockfield detention centre in County Durham, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin. She had no previous convictions.

The defendant was given 12 months in custody, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision. A proceeds of crime hearing will be held later.

Kimberley Obrusik, prosecuting, said Rickwood was in the kitchen with her mother. Gorton was upstairs. He was under the covers in a bedroom and threw a bag that contained foil wraps on to the floor. The defendant then lay back down and a search of the house continued.

Officers found scales, a roll of plastic bags, almost £1,000 in cash, two ‘tick lists’ — envelopes with names and numbers written on them — and five mobile phones.

Miss Obrusik said the bag thrown on the floor was found to be a snap bag containing two foil wraps of heroin. Rickwood was searched and another bag of heroin, 2.26 grams worth £110, fell out of her bra.

The phones were analysed and calls and messages were from numbers known to the police to relate to people who had convictions for the supply or possession of heroin.

The paraphernalia tested positive for heroin. Both defendants were arrested. Rickwood gave a prepared statement, in which she denied supplying Class A drugs.

Sentencing, Recorder Nigel Grundy said it was to Gorton’s credit that he took responsibility for the drug dealing.

He told him: “This is clearly a case of street dealing in which you played the main role and the significant role.”

Recorder Grundy, who had read a letter from Rickwood’s mother Carol Pounder, told Rickwood: “In my judgement, you were clearly vulnerable. You were under the influence of your older boyfriend, who has accepted that this was his street dealing business and you were caught up in that. It’s still a serious offence to concern yourself in supplying Class A drugs.”

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