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26 / 09 / 2008 - Unborn child saves mum from jail
A heavily-pregnant mum-to-be has avoided a four-year prison sentence for drug dealing offences because of the potential risk to her unborn baby.
Gemma Zdanowicz walked into the dock at Bradford Crown Court yesterday with her bags packed and a Moses basket, but Judge Jonathon Rose said her baby had saved her from going to jail.
The court heard that in 2004 Zdanowicz, formerly Clifton, had been jailed for two-and-a-half years for peddling heroin and crack cocaine, but Judge Rose said she had not learned anything from that sentence.
In May last year she was found in possession of significant amounts of heroin and cocaine again and Judge Rose said it was clear she had resumed her peddling.
Despite being charged with possessing the drugs with intent to supply, Zdanowicz denied involvement and within a month she was arrested again in possession of a significant quantity of the Class C drug diazepam.
Judge Rose said despite the “overwhelming evidence” of her guilt the 29-year-old only admitted the drugs offences at her trial.
“There can be no question, notwithstanding the circumstances in your own personal addiction to drugs, that you are a pedlar,” the judge told the tearful defendant.
“A pedlar of drugs that lead to death, to misery, to further crime and to the involvement of other people in crime.
“I have no doubt that the least sentence I can impose on you is one of four years imprisonment and that is the sentence you richly deserve.”
But Judge Rose said he had seen documentary evidence of particular health problems connected with Zdanowicz’s unborn child which could put the baby’s health at risk.
“Inquiries were made to see if the prison service could cope with your particular obstetric difficulties and answer has come back that they cannot,” said Judge Rose. “Your baby has saved you from a sentence of four years imprisonment. What are you going to do to repay it?
“Are you going to come back before me a few months down the line once again with heroin and crack cocaine and diazepam? If you do, Mrs Zdanowicz, once the baby has been born, there is no prospect of you avoiding a very, very long prison sentence.”
The judge stressed that he was taking the exceptional course because he could not in all conscience send the defendant to prison if it might jeopardise two lives.
Instead Zdanowicz, of East Parade, Keighley, was made the subject of an 18-month community order which includes a 12-month drug rehabilitation requirement and supervision.
She will also have to take part in substance-related offending programme.
“Go away. Complete the order. Have a healthy baby and look after it,” Judge Rose told her.
Source : Telegraph & Argus