Drug-running OAP delivered heroin in emergency vehicle

A PENSIONER turned drug runner used an ambulance response car to deliver heroin to an undercover police officer, a court heard.

John Clarke Sanderson, 65, of Stanley Court in Queens Road, Halifax, avoided going to jail despite admitting eight counts of supplying Class A drugs.

A judge described the case as “very unusual” and said Sanderson’s “impeccable history” had helped persuade him to suspend his prison sentence.

Prosecutor Martin Robertshaw told Bradford Crown Court that Sanderson gave his phone number to the undercover officer outside Calderdale Magistrates’ Court on August 9 last year.

The officer called him and ordered a wrap of heroin on September 20, and they arranged to meet in King Cross.

Mr Robertshaw said: “Somewhat unusually, this defendant was driving an ambulance response vehicle to provide some sort of cover for what was taking place.”

Over the next four weeks, Sanderson made seven more deliveries. He was finally arrested on March 25 under Operation Irondale, a Calderdale-wide crackdown on drug dealing and burglary.

Sanderson, a former foster carer with no previous convictions, did not explain why he had become a drug runner at 65. He told the judge: “It was a very stupid thing to do.”

His barrister Andrew Petterson added: “He deeply regrets his actions.”

Judge John Potter sentenced Sanderson to 11 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to complete 200 hours unpaid work.

He must also wear an electronic tag and abide by a 7pm to 7am curfew for three months.

Judge Potter said: “Quite what possessed you to throw away what quite clearly is an impeccable history on this earth by behaving in such a way is difficult for me to fathom.

“You have lived your life in an extremely helpful and proper way and have contributed massively towards our community as a foster carer.

“It’s a very unusual case, and it really is in many ways a tragedy you are appearing in court having done what you did. I hope you come to your senses.”