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Home Tunbridge Wells News Article
It was not the sort of 18th birthday present a responsible mother would normally expect to give her daughter.
They planned to travel to London in a limousine for the special day and Nicola Austen decided to give her daughter cocaine so that they would “have a good time”.
The 37-year-old mother claimed it was the reason she had almost 6g of the drug concealed in a window at her home in Bright Ridge, Southborough.
Austen went to Maidstone Crown Court on Friday with a bag packed prepared for a jail sentence.
But she walked free after a judge decided nine months imprisonment could be suspended and 250 hours “onerous” unpaid work would be imposed.
Prosecutor Craig Evans said police went to Austen’s house on January 31 last year and while searching her bedroom a drugs dog “showed interest”.
“They were going to London in a limousine and she wanted to make sure they had a good time” - Prosecutor Craig Evans
A bag containing white powder was then discovered hidden in sections of the window.
The 12 packages weighed 5.65g and had a high purity of about 87 per cent.
Mr Evans said Austen admitted having the drug to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.
“They were going to London in a limousine and she wanted to make sure they had a good time,” he said.
Austen, who admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply, had six previous convictions, one for possessing amphetamine in 2010. She was fined.
Danny Moore, defending, said there would be an adverse effect on a young boy in the family if Austen were sent to prison. She also provided respite and care for her grandmother.
“It is to her great shame she finds herself in court,” he said. “She appeared to have left this sort of thing behind.”
Mr Moore added that “in the very unusual circumstances of this case”, a suspended sentence could be imposed.
Recorder Matthew McDonagh said: “The basis of your plea – which in the circumstances I do not go behind – was that the drugs were to be consumed by yourself and your daughter and had been purchased to celebrate her birthday on a trip to London.
“They were to be consumed over the course of the weekend. Offences of this nature are to be taken seriously.”
The judge said Austen had previous convictions “of some antiquity”.
He added: “I am persuaded the appropriate course is to accept the submissions.
“I proceed on the basis this is a serious example of possession of drugs. It would take you outside the guidelines.”
Suspending the sentence for a year, Recorder McDonagh said of the unpaid work: “That is meant to be an onerous requirement which, no doubt, you will find difficulty in fulfilling.
“The offence normally attracts a sentence of imprisonment of some length.”
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