Drugs counsellor admits possessing cocaine and MDMA

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BY day, his job was to help drug addicts get the support and rehabilitation they needed. But Michael Joseph-Lester had class A drugs cocaine and MDMA in his home.

They were discovered during a police raid and now Joseph-Lester, pictured holding a bag of drugs, has admitted possession and been fined.

Fareham magistrates were told that Hampshire County Council, for which he worked as a substance misuse officer, was standing by him.

The substance misuse officer whose job involved dishing out advice to drug addicts appeared in court charged with possession of cocaine and MDMA.

Magistrates Court heard police raided Michael Joseph-Lester’s house on Friday, September 27 and found five bags of white powder, three tablets and two scales covered in a white residue.

The 38-year-old, pictured, of Tukes Avenue, Gosport, admitted possessing 2,034mg of cocaine and three tablets containing MDMA and caffeine.

Andrew Newman, prosecuting, said that of the five bags found, four contained cocaine hydrochloride and the other contained 7.2g of a powdered sugar substitute.

The police found two bags in two DVD cases and the rest in a safety deposit box, which Joseph-Lester pointed out to the police officers.

He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of intent to supply.

Joseph-Lester admitted in police interview that he worked for Hampshire County Council as a substance misuse practitioner. Defence Sally Martin said his role was in social care and involved getting people into drug rehabilitation for help and advice.

Mrs Martin said: ‘His manager has come along to court not to hear the result but to show support. He [Joseph-Lester] has worked for them for 15 years and he is highly valued by them and they hope he will be able to return to work with them, albeit in a different capacity.’

She asked magistrates to take into consideration that the press were in court, which would lead to further identification by the public and the fact that most of the drugs were kept in a locked box at his home address.

The court heard Joseph-Lester himself valued the cocaine at about £100 and the MDMA at £15.

Chairman of the magistrates Malcolm Hogg said: ‘We have been asked to consider a conditional discharge. On the face of it, that is something we could have considered, having said that, we are presented with a public interest difficulty here, so we will be imposing a financial penalty by way of a fine and ordering forfeiture of the drugs.’

Joseph-Lester was fined £225 for the cocaine and £100 for the MDMA. He also has to pay a £23 victim surcharge and court costs of £85.

A county council spokesman said: ‘The council is unable to comment on individual cases. However where any member of staff is convicted, cautioned, reprimanded or warned in relation to any criminal offence their employment with the council will be reviewed and the appropriate course of action taken.’