Northern Ireland

Prescription drugs supplier Samantha Verner jailed for six months

Samantha Verner
Image caption Samantha Verner was arrested after her home was searched by police in 2017

A woman from Antrim has been jailed for six months after admitting possessing thousands of prescription tablets with intent to supply.

Antrim Crown Court heard that Samantha Verner, 48, used the money she made from drugs to buy holidays, a car and to pay for weight-loss surgery.

Verner, of Carnbeg Avenue, admitted two counts of possessing diazepam and tramadol with intent to supply.

She was arrested after her home was searched by police in November 2017.

Verner also pleaded guilty to possessing a medicinal product, namely pregabalin, known as Lyrica, with intent to supply on the same date.

Concealed evidence

She also admitted concealing criminal property between January 2009 and March 2018 by lodging more than £76,000 in cash into her bank account.

Antrim Crown Court heard PSNI officers found seven boxes of diazepam, four boxes of tramadol, and 62 boxes of pregabalin hidden around Verner's house in handbags, carrier bags and other household objects.

The court heard there were 3,360 pregabalin tablets in total, 350 tramadol tablets, 168 diazepam tablets and about £13,000 in cash.

During police interview, Verner told officers she had purchased the diazepam and tramadol on the street, but denied knowledge of the pregabalin.

Image caption Antrim Crown Court heard Verner's phone was seized by police, but it had been wiped

Explaining the cash, she said she was a "good saver" and had profited from a house sale.

The court was told that when Verner arrived home during the PSNI search, she had a work colleague's mobile phone in her possession, which was then seized by police.

A prosecution lawyer said this was a "deliberate act" to stop police getting access to her messages.

During a further search of her home, her own phone was seized, but had been wiped.

Officers found one message asking her for "strips" of drugs.

'Avon-type system'

It was also heard she spent £9,990 on gastric sleeve weight-loss surgery, despite working 25 hours per week in a local chip shop.

A defence barrister described Verner as having a "vulnerability", adding that she is now "a lady of straw", whose "criminal enterprise has now been dismantled".

The judge said Verner's role had been two-fold - that she had been marketing drugs in "an Avon-type system" as "an enabler for organised criminals".

She sentenced Verner to 12 months - six months to be served in prison and six on license.