A WOMAN has avoided jail despite lending her Northwich home to drug dealers to pay off her brother's debt.

Melanie Slater was sentenced to two years and eight months, suspended for two years, at Chester Crown Court on Friday (May 31), after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine, a class A drug.

A mum-of-three, Slater was spared immediate imprisonment by Judge Patrick Thompson, who acknowledged the exceptional circumstances of her case.

The court heard how the 40-year-old had let drug dealers use her house to repay her brother's debts before being swept up herself in the habit and resorting to selling cocaine.

He said: “What on earth you were doing involving yourself in the drug trade is beyond me.

“This is by the skin of your teeth but I'm prepared to suspend the imprisonment.”

Judge Thompson felt there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and felt imprisonment would have a harmful impact on Slater’s children.

He added: “I don’t understand why a woman with three children is involved with the selling of cocaine, it’s unbelievable.

“How would you feel if your children started taking cocaine?

“I’ve never taken cocaine but is it that good that it is worth throwing away your life for?”

Shannon Stewart, prosecuting, explained that Slater’s brother is a drug user and got himself into debt with dealers from Merseyside.

To repay these debts, Slater allowed the dealers to use her home on Blackcroft Avenue in Barnton as a base.

This led to Slater taking and dealing drugs herself, selling to four people she knew were regular users.

On October 26, 2022, police conducted a warrant during which officers found a wrap of white powder, digital scales and mobile phones on which 'flare messages' were found.

Defending, Oliver King, explained that Slater had already lost a brother to heroin addiction.

She was 'absolutely terrified' when her other brother became addicted to drugs, fearing the same thing would happen to him.

Lending her house to the dealers was 'the only way she could think to help'.

“She knew this was going to end badly,” Mr King said. “She spoke to social services, she told them she felt trapped.”

He added: “There has been a delay in coming to court which has enabled her to turn her life around.

“Ordinarily those who get involved in the supply of class A drugs go straight to prison, Miss Slater knows that.

“However, there is a really strong personal mitigation which allows your honour to withdraw from ordering an immediate custodial sentence."

Alongside the two-year suspended sentence, Judge Thompson ordered Slater to complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity, a six-month drug rehabilitation course, and 200 hours of unpaid work.