First British woman jailed under new 'three strikes and out'

Career criminal, 44, with 115 convictions is first woman in Britain to be jailed under new ‘three strikes and out’ drug laws

  •  Angela McDougall, 44, has been jailed five years and eight months
  •  She’s been convicted of trafficking Class A narcotics three times in 23 years

A career criminal has become the first woman in Britain to be jailed under tough new ‘three strikes and out’ laws which target prolific drug dealers.

Angela McDougall, 44, who has 115 previous offences on her record was locked up for almost six years after being convicted of trafficking Class A narcotics three times in 23 years.

She was arrested again last year in a police drugs bust after officers discovered she was running a heron and crack cocaine racket from her home in Winsford, Cheshire.

Inquiries revealed the jobless McDougall, who pocketed £1,000 a month from state handouts, had more than £95,000 deposited into her bank account in just nine months through £20-50 a time drug deals.

The dirty money would be quickly transferred to an unknown accomplice and by the time she was detained she only had £413 left.

McDougall has over 100 previous offences on her record was locked up for almost six years

McDougall fell foul of a clause under The Sentencing Act 2020 which warns drug dealers face a minimum seven years in prison if caught peddling Class A narcotics three times throughout their adult life.

Several men have been locked up under the legislation which came into force in December 2021 but it is thought no woman had previously been locked up under the latest ‘three strikes’ rule.

In 2000 McDougall was 22 when she was jailed for two years for supplying heroin and in 2003 was given another three and a half years after being caught smuggling crack cocaine and heroin into Altcourse jail in Liverpool.

She also has eight past convictions for possessing class A drugs some as recently as 2020 and 2021, plus offences of burglary and theft and had also repeatedly flouted a series of non-custodial court orders aimed at helping her get clean.

Lawyers said she had been hooked on heroin and crack since she was teenager and had started dealing again as her partner, who is also a drug addict, had been diagnosed with cancer.

She was jailed for two years in 2000 for supplying heroin at just 22-years-old

At Chester Crown Court McDougall, who admitted being concerning in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine and possession of cannabis and crack cocaine, begged for leniency but Judge Michael Leeming jailed her for five years and eight months.

He told her he was able to reduce the minimum seven year jail term to account for her guilty plea but added: ‘You have a history of failing to act on the opportunities presented to you by the court over the years which were designed to assist you and break your cycle of offending.

‘You’ve also been on notice of the seven-year sentence which would follow if you continued with this offending but you were not deterred. Your last custodial sentence was as recently as 2018. No sentence has put paid to your offending.’

He added: ‘This was not a one-off incident as £95,000 was in and out of your accounts which demonstrates that you were close to a major dealer if not a dealer yourself. It is important that the courts do not undermine the intention of Parliament by too readily accepting exceptional circumstances.

‘You have not made determined efforts to address your drug use and there is nothing to suggest that you have turned your life around since 2003. You have not worked since 2013 which was during a period of sobriety and you have a partner who is also a dependent drug user. You played an important role in this offending and you knew what you were doing.

‘You know better than anybody the dependency that class A drugs can cause.’

She received over £95,000 from drug deals in a nine-month period whilst earning £1,000 a month from state handouts

The court heard that police raided McDougall’s home on July 25 last year after a tip off. Prosecutor Jayne Morris said: ‘Her partner was present at the scene and during the search of the property small amounts of cannabis were found along with a small wrap of crack cocaine, £205 in cash, two white iPhones and a Samsung mobile phone.

‘The mobile phones were seized and analysed and a report showed that there were numerous messages related to supply of Class A drugs, both crack cocaine and diamorphine. The messages are very frequent. It’s very clear that this defendant was heavily involved in supplying Class A drugs over that period of time, approximately a nine-month period.

‘An analysis of her bank transactions showed payments from various different people going into her bank account, amounts of £25, £50 and £100. Sometimes an individual would transfer three different sums of money in one day. ‘The exact sum of £95,845.86 was deposited and £95,469.72 was withdrawn. There was £413 left in her account.

‘She said in interview she was receiving £1,000 a month in benefits and Universal Credit. In addition to that was sums of money related to the supply of drugs. She said she was using class A drugs, heroin and crack cocaine and was spending about £30 to £40 a day to facilitate her habit.

‘She said the phones were hers. She said she used them to play games on and that there would be nothing on them related to the supply of drugs. That is clearly not the case.’

She begged for leniency but was ultimately jailed for five years and eight months

Inquiries were made into McDougall’s financial assets but the court heard investigators would not be pursuing any proceeds of crime application. 

In mitigation, defence barrister Mr Robin Howat said: ‘There are factors in the childhood of this defendant that led her to being involved in drink and drugs as a way of self-medicating for those traumas.

‘Between the last two qualifying offences there is a considerable period of time, the gap of almost 20 years. The first occurred due to a abusive relationship she was in, the second was not street supplying. Those drugs were being taken into a prison.

‘There can be very few cases if any where there is a gap of 20 years between the offending. She suffers from DVT (deep vein thrombosis), through the abuse of drugs. and also has severe asthma. She has nothing in the world apart from the bags that she brought to court.

‘This is not a case that she is said to have the trappings of crime. Regarding the money that went through her account, she was being used and the dealer was getting her to work off her debt by channelling the money, holding the phone and dealing with the drugs on their behalf.

‘It’s clear that when one sees her physical state and one tries to interact with her, she’s still someone in the depths of addiction. She was given drugs to do this operation and fell back into it because of her partner who is also severely addicted.

‘She has cancer and a severe heart problem. She was unable to manage her own habit. Therefore, rightly or wrongly, Miss McDougall took on that role to support the both of them because of the debts accrued in the drug market.

‘She has fallen prey to other people in her life who have exploited her situation. She is not someone who is benefiting a great degree other than subsistence drug use.’

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