Ampleforth cleaner jailed for supplying drugs to pupils

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A FORMER cleaner at Ampleforth College was jailed yesterday for two and a half years for supplying drugs to pupils.

York Crown Court was told that Steve Kitching, 28, supplied five sixth- formers at the pounds 14,000-a-year Roman Catholic public school in North Yorkshire with cannabis after they approached him.

Kitching, of Helmsley, North Yorks, admitted supplying the five pupils, aged between 15 and 17, with a Class B drug between November 1998 and February 1999.

Geraldine Kelly, for the prosecution, told the court that Kitching supplied the boys with cannabis bush and resin in small amounts worth between pounds 10 and pounds 45. In total, he supplied amounts of the drug costing pounds 128.50, making between pounds 20 and pounds 30 profit.

Ms Kelly added: "The five people that were supplied with cannabis approached Mr Kitching and it was not he who approached them."

The offence came to light after a 17-year-old who had bought cannabis from Kitching heard that the cleaner's house had been searched by police and "fearing for his own situation at school and the reputation of the school informed the school of what he had done and informed the police". Two of the boys disposed of the cannabis after they bought it, the court was told. Three others were later cautioned by the police.

Dan Edwards, for the defence, said Kitching had lost his job at the school and his marriage was in tatters because of the case.

He said Kitching did not use the drug himself and added: "It is his belief that he was asked by these sixth-formers to buy the cannabis because unlike them he had unrestricted access to the outside world, given the nature of the schooling at Ampleforth. They wouldn't be asking the brothers.

"They have a limited supply of people to approach and they approached this man." Jailing Kitching, Judge Peter Charlesworth told him: "Obviously this is a sad day for you but it was a sad day for all who'd been connected with this famous school when you decided that you would, for profit, sell cannabis in one form or another to a number of pupils aged between 15 and 17.

"These obviously are serious offences because they are committed as a breach of trust, selling to vulnerable young people who knew you were prepared and able to obtain cannabis for them and so approached you and you made money out of them."