Lewis Rawlinson, a 19-year-old student, according to the court documents, imported narcotics from abroad (mostly from the Netherlands), which he allegedly bought on the dark web, and resold them at the Lockdown Festival at Powderham Castle in September 2016. The defendant sold ecstasy and LSD and the festival, court documents stated.
At his hearing at the Exeter Crown Court, the court heard that the suspect ordered the narcotics for resale since he needed the profits to pay for his expensive medical treatment. Rawlinson occasionally visited a specialist on Harley Street and paid for the private treatment for a dermatological condition and a progressive illness called Meibomian Eye Dysfunction which, he believed could not be treated properly on the National Health Service (NHS). According to the court documents, the defendant spent more than £1,000 traveling from his home in Ottery St Mary to the specialist dry eye clinics in London, and paying £500 on a Harley Street consultation.
Facing serious charges,he pleaded guilty to smuggling ecstasy (MDMA) and ketamine in October last year when he appeared at the Exeter Crown Court. He also admitted to the charges of possession with intent to supply MDMA, LSD, diazepam, and alprazolam at the Lockdown Festival and the possession of £2,250 in cash, which investigators claimed that was sourced from illicit activities.
“This was a strange case because you were seeking to raise money to meet medical bills for an eye condition which I accept you were suffering from,” Recorder Andrew Maitland, the presiding judge, said in a statement to the defendant. “The fact that you chose to do that in this way has brought you to court. You placed an order for drugs and your name and address were on the package. You were bringing these substances to the British drugs scene.”
Janice Eagles, from the prosecution, said that a security guard at the Lockdown Festival on September 10 was tipped off about a suspicious man selling drugs who was wearing a distinctive Australian style hat. The guard allegedly tried to talk to him but Rawlinson ran away through the tents before being tackled to the ground. Festival security found narcotics on the 19-year-old hidden in a bumbag.
After his festival incident, law enforcement authorities searched Rawlinson’s home. During the search, investigators found 50 ecstasy pills, 18 LSD blotters, and 72 diazepam tablets along with a small amount of alprazolam and £2,250 in cash. The defendant was bailed soon after his arrest. However, on October 5, customs authorities intercepted a package from the Netherlands addressed to his home address containing 510 ecstasy tablets, 149 grams of MDMA, and 55.24 grams of ketamine. According to police information, the MDMA (both pills and crystal) had a wholesale value of £2,100, however, the substance could have been sold on the streets for £11,000. The ketamine was valued at £600.
“We do not know when the drugs were ordered or when they were dispatched, but it appears they were ordered on the dark web,” Eagles said. “A smartphone was seized when he was arrested at the Lockdown Festival, but he refused to give police the PIN number, so we don’t know what information it may have contained.”
Jonathan Barnes from defense stated that his client ordered the drugs from the dark web without realizing he was committing the “very serious offense of smuggling” them into the United Kingdom.
“This was not the same as large-scale importation or bringing in large quantities with boats or airplanes. What led to this was his need for money to pay for private treatment. He was so worried at his medical condition that he was incurring fees for private treatment. Unfortunately, he saw this activity as a solution. He is determined to use his time in prison well and is due to retake his A levels in July, which he hopes to do even if he is in custody,” Barnes said at the court trial.
Rawlinson was sentenced to a total of five and a half years of imprisonment in a young offenders’ institution by Recorder Maitland, who ordered him to forfeit the drugs and the £2,250 cash.