Teenager’s dark web sentence may be challenged

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Following the Royal Court sentencing of Joel Lewis on Monday, Victoria College has now written to parents setting out the action it is taking to ‘educate young people so that they can make the right decisions to safeguard themselves and others’.

Army officer-hopeful Lewis was sentenced to 384 hours of community service by the Superior Number – which only convenes for the most serious cases – instead of youth detention.

The Crown had asked the court to impose a 2½-year custodial sentence.

Lewis, a former Victoria College student, was arrested at school after police discovered he had imported 304 ecstasy pills with an estimated street value of £12,725, using a delivery address of the Mayfair Hotel. During interview, Lewis, who the court was told had been offered a bursary by the British Army to attend the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, also admitted organising a similar importation using a St Malo hotel.

In mitigation, Advocate Sarah Dale, defending, said that imposing community service rather than prison would potentially allow her client to still pursue a career in the army.

Deputy Bailiff Tim Le Cocq, who was sitting with Jurats Paul Nicolle, Jerry Ramsden, Rozanne Thomas, Jane Ronge and Pamela Pitman, told Lewis that the Jurats had not been unanimous in agreeing to a non-custodial sentence.

A spokesman for the Law Officers’ Department has now told the JEP that Attorney General Robert MacRae is considering appealing against the sentence imposed.

In July 2015 16-year-old Victoria College student Morgan Huelin died after taking a cocktail of illegal and prescription drugs.

Five teenage boys, who were initially arrested on suspicion of murder, were prosecuted in 2016 for perverting the course of justice in connection with Mr Huelin’s death. The court heard they moved his unconscious body from the garage of a home to a road to prevent a police investigation uncovering class-A drugs and indecent images of children belonging to one of the defendants.

At the time, one of the boys’ advocates accused their client’s school of having a ‘drugs culture’ that staff had never properly addressed.

Following Lewis’ sentencing, a Victoria College spokeswoman said yesterday that the case related to activity that took place outside school. ‘We have no evidence of drug taking in school,’ she added.

However, Victoria College head teacher Alun Watkins sent a letter to parents setting out the measures the school has in place to safeguard against drugs.

The email says: ‘The college is naturally very concerned but we want to take this opportunity to reassure you about the action we are taking. Above anything else, we want to ensure our boys are safe.

‘As a school, our first defence against substance misuse is to educate young people so that they can make the right decisions to safeguard themselves and others. We want our boys to have the confidence to say no.’

The letter says that there is a ‘strong anti-drugs education programme’ at the school which is part of the curriculum. And it adds that the college works with the police, drug sniffer dog teams, as well as the charities Prison! Me! No Way! and Silkworth Lodge, which specialises in alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

‘We have already spoken to the Education Department about this case and, like all schools, will continue to work closely with them, the police and other professionals to explore any extra measures that can help prevent substance misuse in schools and in the wider community,’ the letter says. ‘This is ongoing.’

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