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Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK

UK: Wales

Drugs are destroying villages warns judge

Drug abuse is killing communities according to Judge Kilfoil

A judge has revealed his distress over the the effect of drugs on villages in north Wales.

Circuit judge Geoffrey Kilfoil said villages and estates in parts of north Wales, once the homes of decent hard-working people, were now almost on the point of death through drugs.

Judge Kilfoil, 61, who was brought up in a Welsh mining community, said :"Decent villages from which some of us came, estates where we had relatives, have become appalling because of the drug dealing going on.

"We have seen some villages go almost to the point of death because of the number of people affected through drugs."

Drugs habit broken

He said it was difficult for those wanting to get away from the drugs culture to find anywhere to go.

The judge was speaking at Knutsford Crown Court as he sentenced 26-year-old mother-of-three Leila Owen to two years' probation.

He had been told how she had attempted to break her drugs habit during her time on remand in prison.

He was told that police raided her home at Delfryn, Pen y Coe, Wrexham, in November last year finding her in possession of heroin and drug-taking equipment.

She admitted possessing heroin worth 90 and that she had a habit which cost 20 a day.

John Hedgecoe, defending, said as a result of her drug-taking Owen had lost custody of her three children and got into wretched circumstances.

While in custody awaiting sentence she had got herself off drugs but the appalling situation was that she would have to go back into the drug culture again.

Poverty and hard circumstances

"It is difficult to know these days where you can go when you are on a particular social and financial level to avoid drugs," he added.

He said a temporary place had been found for her in a hostel in Birmingham and she move back to Wrexham later.

Sentencing her Judge Kilfoil said her three children deserved a better life and should not be pushed through the care system.

He added :"I can tell you that in the past people from those villages and estates had to break away from poverty and hard circumstances.

"There was drink but not drugs," he added.

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