Published: 12:51, 16 October 2006
A DRUG addict who injected a 13-year-old girl with heroin escaped a prison sentence when he appeared before a crown court judge.
Aaron Gearing, 27, tied a belt around her arm and administered the drug while his parents and younger brothers were in the family home.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, collapsed and passed out. When she eventually came to she was sick and later, still feeling unwell, took herself to hospital.
She had only met Gearing at Sheerness railway station that day. The pair talked about drugs and Gearing told her he was a heroin addict.
Prosecutor Nina Ellin said the girl, in turn, told him she had "done a bit of puff and a bit of coke and that", as well as sniffing aerosols.
Having already invited her back to his house in Mansfield Road, Iwade, near Sittingbourne, for a cup of tea, Gearing then offered to give her some heroin.
"His parents and two younger brothers were in the house at the time," said Miss Ellin. "They went upstairs to watch a film and she agreed to try some (heroin). He began to burn the substance on a spoon, put it in a needle, put a belt around her arm and then injected her with the heroin.
"She collapsed and passed out. She came round and was sick in the bathroom. She had a cigerette and felt better."
The girl was later taken to the railway station by Gearing and his father. However, still feeling unwell she went to hospital where she stayed overnight.
The spoon Gearing used to dilute the heroin with lemon juice was later found in her bag.
When interviewed by the police she was asked whether Gearing knew how old she was. "She said he guessed she was 17 or 18 and she smiled but did not dissuade him," said Miss Ellin.
Following his arrest, Gearing said the girl had told him she was a user and could not recall her being ill.
Gearing, who is of low intelligence with an IQ of just 72, admitted supplying heroin on February 18. He denied administering a poison or noxious substance with intent and the charge was left on file.
Sentencing him to an 18-month community order with a condition that he undergoes a drug rehabilitation programme for six months, Judge Jeremy Carey said Gearing deserved to be punished with prison.
"Class A drugs are capable of causing not just serious addiction but death. It is for that reason that everyone is taking this case as seriously as they are and you understand that one course this court can take today, and one some would say should take today, is to send you to prison.
"A prison sentence would punish you and you deserved to be punished. It would also send a clear message to your friends, associates and those tempted to dabble in heroin dealing and use.
"But I am persuaded I can, and should, take another course which will mean your problem will be addressed."
Gearing also pleaded guilty to three further offences of supplying heroin on December 6 and 8 last year and on January 31. These charges all related to drug deals Gearing arranged in Sheerness between an undercover police officer and a dealer known as "Danny".
Robert O'Sullivan, defending, said Gearing, was someone eager to please and anxious to make friends. He acted solely as a go-between and there was no evidence he had a stash of heroin himself.
Of the offence relating to the young girl, Mr O'Sullivan said that "taken at face value" it would cause considerable concern.
But he added that Gearing was not a sophisticated, guileful defendant and would have taken her at her word. Furthermore, the spoon Gearing used contained only traces of heroin.
"It is important that, not losing sight that she was 13, she did not raise any objection," said Mr O'Sullivan. "He did not use or threaten any force, there was no inducement and there is no suggestion of him having an ulterior motive.
"He thought he was dealing with an adult user and he was at his parents'