The father of Chelsea and England footballer John Terry was spared jail today for supplying cocaine to an undercover News of the World reporter.
The judge in the case said that Terry would not have committed the crime had it not been for the journalist acting as an “agent provocateur”.
Edward Terry, of Chafford Hundred, Essex, admitted supplying 3.5 grammes of the class A drug to journalist Dan Sanderson, who was posing as a chauffeur, last November.
But Judge Christopher Mitchell said: “It is a very, very clear case of entrapment solely to create a newspaper story.”
Terry, who is in his mid-50s, was sentenced to a suspended prison term of six months at Basildon Crown Court.
He was also ordered to do 100 hours of community service and pay £95 costs.
The court heard that journalist Dan Sanderson befriended Terry at a wine bar he frequented near his home over a six-week period last autumn.
The reporter struck up a relationship with him, visiting the establishment three or four times a week between September and November 2009.
Prosecutor Paul Scothern said: “Employees of a national newspaper decided to mount what was in effect a sting operation against Mr Terry to ascertain whether he could or would supply class A drugs.”
At about 5.30pm on November 5, Mr Sanderson went to the bar with two of his colleagues, who he claimed were his boss and his boss’s friend.
Chatting to Terry and others in the bar in a conversation he was recording, the journalist said he had to entertain the two men, who wanted to visit a lap-dancing venue.
He said he wanted to obtain some cocaine for the men and asked Terry if knew where he could source the drug, the court heard.
Terry pointed out someone in the bar whom Sanderson went to talk to, but the reporter then returned and said a deal was not possible.
Terry then suggested Sanderson approach a doorman at the proposed lap-dancing venue but the reporter was not satisfied with this either.
Scothern told the court: “Then Terry said ‘I can supply. How much do you want?'”
Sanderson said he wanted three grammes of cocaine, Terry assured him of the quality of the product and a fee of £120 was agreed.
Terry asked for a payment for facilitating the deal and the reporter gave him £40.
Terry then left the bar and returned about 15 minutes later with the cocaine and the deal was done in the men’s toilets, Scothern said.
Lawyer Neil Saunders, defending, described it as a “highly unusual, if not quite exceptional sort of case”.
He told the court: “That this journalist acted as an agent provocateur is quite clear.
“Mr Terry would not have acted in the way he did and committed this offence but for being enticed by the journalist who befriends Mr Terry, meets with him on a couple of dozen occasions at the minimum, simply for a tabloid story because of Mr Terry’s younger son.”
The court heard that the “subterfuge” perpetrated by Sanderson extended to him driving to the bar in an S-Class Mercedes with the two men, who he said were multimillionaires.
At the bar he ordered the most expensive brandy and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne.
This was, Saunders said, “simply to try and get over this idea that they were multimillionaires with money to burn”.
Unemployed Terry had been at a party that day and had already drunk eight pints of beer before meeting the reporter.
When the conversation turned to drugs, Sanderson said he normally went to a supplier in Shepherd’s Bush but the quality of the product was poor.
Terry said “Well, he’s a multimillionaire, he’s not going to want shit like that”, the court was told.
The judge heard Mr Sanderson was told by his editor to make sure Terry handed over the drug himself, rather than the person delivering it.
Terry was described as a man of good character who had been weakened by alcohol and was now remorseful.
Saunders said: “In his statement, Mr Sanderson says he deliberately befriended Ted Terry.
“In the course of that, he explains how he built up a relationship with Mr Terry but in all those meetings there was never once a suggestion by Mr Terry of drugs or anything unlawful.”
He went on: “It’s clear he had been out that day and had had a considerable amount to drink.
“Weakened by the amount of alcohol and dealing with someone he thought to be a new friend, he allowed himself to be suggested upon.
“Mr Terry is adamant that this offence was out of character and it was the first time he had been involved in illicit substances in any way…
“He repeated six times how stupid he had been.”
He added: “He is said to be full of remorse and is embarrassed and ashamed his actions have brought the publicity on his son that they have.”
Terry has described the offence as “something that will live with me for the rest of my life”.
Judge Mitchell, sentencing, described the case as “highly unusual” and said Terry had been simply a “facilitator at a very, very low level”.
He told Terry: “The offence was effectively created by the actions of a newspaper sending a journalist to effectively set you up.
“This is clearly an entrapment case. The only reason it seems they did this was to create a story because of your family connection with a well-known footballer.”