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In May 2017, Daniel Kennett, age 18, sold four ‘Defqon’ ecstasy pills to his fellow student Luke Campbell-Tapson. Luke, underestimating the strength of the pills, fatally overdosed. The 17-year-old’s death sparked an investigation into Kennett and his business partner who had been buying the pills on the darknet and reselling them in prison. At a recent sentencing court appearance, both dealers cried in relief after hearing they would not be going to prison.
Kennett and his 17-year-old partner avoided prison thanks to a heartfelt letter from Luke’s sister. The sister, known only as “Esther” to the court, begged Recorder Timothy Rose not to ruin the lives of two more young men. She said that her family had no interest in revenge. With the increasingly harsh sentences being passed down to drug dealers who contributed to fatal overdoses, Recorder Timothy Rose’s decision to avoid a prison sentence surprised the court.
Kennett pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying MDMA, a class A substance. Kennett admitted his guilt at Exeter Crown Court in February 2018. His partner, a 17-year-old protected by the UK’s privacy laws, admitted to 10 counts of supplying a class A substance between December 2016 and the end of May 2017. According to statements in court, the two dealers purchased 25 tablets of ecstasy at a time. They placed orders on the darknet and spent £60 per package. The court pointed out that the 17-year-old had “used Bitcoin to cover his tracks.”
Upon arrival, the two teens sold the pills for £10 per pill. They sold the pills at parties or clubs in close proximity to their homes. Luke had planned on attending a student disco the night he overdosed. Unfortunately, as Esther reiterated in her letter, Luke had no idea how much MDMA had been in the pills. The pills, according to stats on EcstasyData.org, likely contained between 200mg of MDMA to almost 270mg of MDMA. Both doses are considerably higher than the recommended dose for a MDMA user. They may not have been an issue for an experienced user, but they proceed fatal to a first time user.
After the hearing wherein both teenagers pleaded guilty to MDMA distribution, the judge allowed both defendants to leave the courtroom on bail. He warned, though, that allowing them to remain free prior to the sentencing hearing did not mean they would be lightly sentenced. But the letter from the departed teenager’s sister changed the mind of the court.
Recorder Timothy Rose told both teenagers that the letter represented an “impassioned plea for you to maintain your freedom with a view to carrying out restorative work with the family.” He added that they were “in receipt of the most extraordinary act of kindness and compassion extended by the family.”
The Recorder sentenced Kennett to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. Kennett must complete 200 hours of community service and complete 30 days of rehab or drug therapy. The second teenager received a sentence of six months curfew and two years rehabilitation.