Herefordshire magician attributes drug reading to over-the-counter drugs

An “OCCASIONAL” cocaine user attributed a drug reading to an over-the-counter medication purchased to treat toothache.

James Alton pleaded guilty when he appeared before Hereford magistrates.

Police had spotted Alton driving a Hyundai on the A49 at Harewood End on February 2, prosecutor Elizabeth Blacklock said.

He was arrested, admitted to carrying a small amount of cocaine and was arrested after failing a drug test on the road. An evidence-in-custody test found he had 428 micrograms of the cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine per liter of blood. The legal limit is 50.

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Chris Read, for Alton, said the 52-year-old was back after visiting a sick family member.

“While he was away, he was in a lot of pain from a broken tooth and abscess. He went to buy an over-the-counter pain reliever, and he did his own research and found that the drug contained certain chemicals that gave this result and are related to cocaine, so they give this reading for benzoylecgonine.

“He thought at first ‘well, that’s not cocaine’, but I told him the offense was to have the metabolite in his system.

“He admits that he occasionally uses cocaine, but the result of this incident came from the drug he bought over the counter.

“He has an unusual lifestyle. He works in the entertainment industry as a magician and illusionist, but there has been little work in the past 12 months so he’s going to have to apply for allowances.

“The small amount of cocaine he had was only worth a few pounds in a bag in the car.”

Alton, from Ethelstan Crescent, Hereford, was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £ 120. He also has to pay a fee of £ 185 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 34.


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