Published: 11:08, 04 April 2018
| Updated: 12:22, 04 April 2018
Suppliers of a deadly drug which killed a Deal teenager are likely to face tougher sentences thanks to a campaign by his mother and MP Charlie Elphicke.
Robert Fraser was 18 when he died after taking fentanyl, a synthetic opioid dozens of times stronger than heroin.
His mother Michelle Parry, 49, of Sandown Road, has since been working with her local MP to bring in Robert’s Law – a series of measures to toughen sentencing for supplying fentanyl.
This week, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders wrote to the politician confirming the Crown Prosecution Service’s official drug offences guidance has been revised to include fentanyl for the first time.
The new guidance contains almost 600 words dedicated to fentanyl, warning prosecutors that “lower quantities… may still constitute a very serious offence”, that “the dangers of fentanyl… should be brought to the attention of the court” through “expert witnesses… and statements”, and that prosecutors should draw fentanyl’s “increased potency” to the court’s attention as an aggravating factor during sentencing.
Mr Elphicke said: “This is encouraging news. The first words of Robert’s Law have been etched.
“Fentanyl is a deadly drug and it is right that dealers should face long sentences. That sends a clear message to anyone thinking of getting involved with this stuff.
“I want to thank Robert’s mum Michelle for being so brave over recent months. She has fought incredibly hard so something positive can be drawn from utter tragedy.”
Mrs Parry said: “I’m just so overwhelmed. I’ve been crying but for once for a good reason.
“It means Robert was important and that means the world to me. This poison is costing lives and sitting back and hiding hoping it will all go away is not an option.
“My son’s memory is worth so much more and so is our children’s future. I can’t thank Charlie enough for helping me achieve this.”
They two also hope the Sentencing Council will revise their guidelines.
Mr Elphicke’s proposals would mean placing fentanyl in the most serious category for harm – increasing minimum jail terms from three years to six.
Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy recently told Mr Elphicke a review of the guideline would commence “shortly”, adding: “The issue of fentanyl and the sentencing of cases involving it will be carefully considered during discussions to revise the guideline. I will ensure your comments regarding issues relating to assessing the seriousness of offences involving fentanyl are fully considered as part of that review.”
Fentanyl killed 20,000 people in the US last year — up from 3,000 three years before. Deaths in the UK have also increased in recent months.