Talented student ‘wrecked’ life after spiraling drug use got out of control

A talented student who ‘destroyed’ his life after his spiraling drug use got out of control later then threw away an opportunity to rebuild himself.

Tom Waller, 34, abandoned his university degree and was jailed in 2013 for robbery, however, after he was released from prison, he was assisted by a housing association and he got a job as a digital marketing executive.

Hull Crown Court heard how he relapsed into drinking and drugs, turned to dealing on the street, and “let a lot of people down” but he was “essentially a decent person who has gone off the rails badly”.

Waller, of Hull, and Stephen Pickett, 21, of Leeds, admitted to possession of heroin and crack cocaine with the attempt to supply and possessing cash as criminal property on October 21, 2021, Hull Live reports.

Waller also admitted possessing heroin and a psychoactive substance with intent to supply and possessing cannabis, methadone and £541 cash as criminal property on November 15, 2019.

Stephen Robinson, prosecuting, said that Waller bought some groceries from Tesco in Kingston Road, Willerby, but realized that he had left his wallet behind so returned to the store. A member of staff had looked in the wallet to try to identify the owner and spotted a large amount of cash, £541, tablets and empty plastic bags.

Tom Waller

Waller was arrested and about 1,900 psychoactive substance tablets were found as well as just over a kilo of heroin, valued at £19,800, and also mixers, cannabis, methadone, scales and plastic bags.

In the later incident also involving Pickett, police saw Waller approach a drug user in Queens Road, Hull. He was searched and was found with two wraps of heroin and one of crack cocaine as well as £20 cash.

Police went to premises in Beverley Road, where Waller had come from, and Pickett was in the bathroom. They found a bag containing 17 wraps of heroin and cocaine. Pickett was searched and had £1,240 cash on him.

Jailed: Stephen Pickett
Jailed: Stephen Pickett

Waller had convictions for four previous offences, including possessing cannabis and dishonesty and he had been jailed for five years in 2013 for robbery and attempted robbery. Pickett had convictions for 22 previous offenses, mainly for traffic offenses and breaching court orders.

Richard Thompson, mitigating, said that Waller completed two years of a degree in social work at the University of Hull. “He became involved in drug use and this severely interfered with his studies of him,” said Mr Thompson.

Waller was jailed in 2013 for the robbery and attempted robbery offenses but was released from prison in September 2015 and “thought that would be the end of it and he had done well during his sentence.” He became involved in a local company that took on ex-offenders and worked as a digital marketing executive for a company based in Willerby.

“He was drug-free, he got his own accommodation in the Willerby area and he was doing very well,” said Mr Thompson.

Waller became “a little lonely and isolated” and his only company was work colleagues, some of them ex-offender prisoners and coming towards the end of their life sentences.

“I have started to drink and I thought that alcohol would not be a problem,” said Mr Thompson. “He started drinking heavily, associating with his colleagues from him and started taking drugs recreationally and he realizes now that he was on a slippery slope.

“He became involved in more heavy drug use, Class A drugs, and he got into debt. By November 2019, he was in a bad state. He had lost his job by then. He started selling tablets to repay what he owed. He would like to complete his studies.”

Ben Hammersley, representing Pickett, said that the defendant had not been taking drugs for long but amassed quite a significant debt. He had shown genuine remorse.

Both his parents were drug users, he had a troubled background and he was adopted. He wanted to go back to college to do catering qualifications.

“He is determined not to fall back into the cycle of offending and going back into custody,” said Mr Hammersley. Judge Mark Bury told Waller: “You are essentially a decent person who has gone off the rails badly through your own addictive personality.”

Waller had been given a chance by a housing association and lived in a “nice clean” flat but he allowed it to be taken over by Leeds drug dealers. “You let a lot of people down, including yourself, because you went back to drugs in a big way,” said Judge Bury.

Pickett was told to come and “house sit” and deal drugs from the flat but Waller was “doing all the leg work.” Pickett had arrived only the day before he was arrested but he had £1,240 cash on him, representing a lot of dealing already.

Waller was jailed for three years and Pickett was locked up for two years.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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