A Houghton woman who sold crack cocaine and heroin after sending out daily ‘advertisements’ to potential customers has been jailed.

Joanne Bower texted “flare” messages to 73 drug users’ phones every day to let them know what she had for sale.

The 40-year-old would then deliver orders to customers herself or send the person she had working for her, who had a weekly sales target of £400.

At Newcastle Crown Court today mum-of-five Bower, of Chestnut Terrace, Houghton, Sunderland, who has no other convictions, was jailed for 30 months.

Mr Recorder David Gordon said: “Dealing in Class A drugs is always going to be dealt with seriously by the courts.

“Class A drugs cause misery, they give rise to crime, they cause humiliation, degradation, we see that every day in these courts.

“Class A drugs are poisons and that is what you were dealing on the streets of this country.”

Recorder Gordon said the flare messages were ‘effectively sending out advertisements to known customers’. Prosecutor Joe Hedworth told the court Bower had been pulled over by police in an unmarked car in Newcastle, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, last February.

She initially admitted she was carrying some drugs for personal use but late confessed she had been dealing.

Officers seized a total of £550 worth of crack cocaine, £650 of heroin and a small amount of a class B drug, known as monkey dust, from her and her home, which was in Stoke at the time.

Mr Hedworth told the court Bower said in police interview she had got ‘caught up’ in dealing through a couple she met in a bar and was given a list of contacts by them to send messages to.

Bower said she had been dealing for around three weeks and had made £600 from it.

Mr Hedworth told the court: “Telephone evidence showed she sent daily flare messages to 73 drug users.

“She was delivering the drugs herself and in addition there was someone working for her, under her direction, delivering drugs. He or she had been set a weekly target of £400.”

Bower pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of and possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

She admitted possession of the class B drug.

Christopher Knox, defending, said there was an element of ;naivety, immaturity and exploitation’ involved in Bower’s offending.

Mr Knox said Bower has a ‘tragic’ background and a ‘very, very sad life story’ and added: “She has taken steps to remove herself from the circumstances which she fell into difficulty.”

He added that the courts have been urged not to send people to prison unless necessary.

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