Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Cocaine-snorting rabbi 'lonely'

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish
Baruch Chalomish denies two counts of intent to supply the drug

A multi-millionaire rabbi accused of dealing cocaine has told a jury that he snorted the drug to stop feeling lonely after his wife's death.

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish, 54, of Salford, told Manchester Crown Court: "I wanted to stop feeling lonely, stop feeling depressed, to feel normal."

Chalomish admits two counts of possessing the drug, but denies two of possession with intent to supply.

He told the court he was "deeply ashamed" of his behaviour.

Chalomish said the media reports of his trial were "the biggest punishment I have ever had in my life".

'Very high'

The rabbi, who admits spending £1,000 a week on "the best cocaine in town" admitted he paid prostitutes to have sex with him.

He told his defence counsel, Jonathan Goldberg QC, that he began taking cocaine three years ago after being introduced to it by a friend.

Chalomish said his friend introduced him to his co-accused, Nasir Abbas, and said they would go to parties in flats around Manchester and snort cocaine alongside "distinguished people" such as surgeons and GPs.

He said: "I felt very high, and no worries, and not lonely anymore, this was very important to me."

Chalomish's wife Freda, 40, died in 1996 and he told the court he took the drug because he "probably wanted to forget her death".

Chalomish, who estimates his wealth at £7m, said he bought cocaine from Mr Abbas, who has failed to turn up for the trial.

'Best customer'

Mr Abbas faces one charge of possessing cocaine and one of possession with intent to supply.

The rabbi said he was Abbas's "best customer" but that they were never in business together.

Chalomish said he had lived alone for nine years, and admitted his home, which is filled with unopened mail and empty bottles, was in disarray because since his wife died he found it difficult to throw things away.

The jury heard he was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and came to England aged 23, where he worked for a time as a rabbi in Glasgow.

He was also made life president of a Jewish religious college in Manchester.

The trial continues.

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