Hexham dad caught with cocaine and heard 'slurring' claimed report to police was 'malicious'

Tony Hunter pictured leaving Newcastle Magistrates' Court.
Tony Hunter pictured leaving Newcastle Magistrates' Court. -Credit:ChronicleLive

A Northumberland dad who was found in possession of cocaine claimed officers were called after a "malicious" report was made to police.

Police officers went to Tony Hunter's Hexham home after a concerned member of the public called them and reported they had heard him "slurring" in a car with a child before driving off. When police spoke to Hunter at his home, he was found to be "extremely intoxicated" but maintained he'd been at home all day and that the report to police was "malicious" due to an ongoing dispute.

Hunter was then taken to a police station where he was found to be in possession of cocaine. He had also failed to provide a breath test multiple times.

This week, Hunter, of South End, Kielder, Hexham, appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court facing charges of possession of cocaine and failing to provide a specimen for analysis. The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to the offences.

The court heard that on March 23 this year, a woman was parked outside a shop in Bellingham when she heard the voices of a young boy and a man - said to be Hunter. Paul Coulson, prosecuting, said: "The young boy was saying 'no, you can't drive, you shouldn't be driving'. She then heard a male [speaking] with slurred words.

"There was clearly a discussion between the male and the boy as to whether or not he should be driving. Following the conversation, she was worried and later saw the car reversing out. She had to call the police as she was worried."

After the call, police traced the licence plate of the car in question back to Hunter's home, where a child answered the door. Mr Coulson continued: "The defendant was extremely intoxicated and unsteady on his feet. The officers asked the defendant to provide a breath sample and he said no."

Hunter then refused to get into a waiting police car and again refused a breath test before he was taken to Forth Banks police station. He again refused to provide samples on "a number of occasions" without giving an excuse. When he was placed in a holding cell, he was searched and was found to be in possession of two small bags of cocaine.

The court heard Hunter had three previous convictions for five offences, but the last offence - handling stolen goods - dated back to 1999.

Kashif Khan, defending, said Hunter "maintains" he remained at home drinking alcohol on that day. He said: "He believes the complaint to police was a malicious one due to an ongoing dispute with people in his area. He lives with his partner and two children.

"He is currently out of work but is training for his HGV licence. This incident is going to be devastating for that."

Sentencing was adjourned so that a pre-sentence report could be completed. Hunter will appear back at the court on May 23 and an interim driving ban was imposed.