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Marquess given time to 'kick habit'

THE MARQUESS of Bristol, a self-confessed drug addict who was once one of Britain's wealthiest aristocrats, was given a last chance yesterday to kick his habit and avoid prison.

The 38-year-old peer - described as a 'sad' and 'emotionally deprived' figure with an addiction stretching back 20 years - was told his sentence for possessing cocaine and heroin was being deferred for five months. Bristol, said to have daily taken 'enormous quantities' of hard drugs, must then return to Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London, and show that he has not 'thrown the towel in' during treatment at a Chelsea clinic.

Judge Stable QC, warned that if he gave up the fight against his addiction he would be jailed for 10 months.

The court was told Bristol became a registered drug addict days before his home near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was raided in October 1991. Police found a false-bottom canister of furniture polish and salt and pepper pots used to store hard drugs, which he snorted through bank notes.

Bristol had admitted two possession charges but was cleared of three charges of supplying hard drugs to friends when the judge decided the prosecution evidence was unsatisfactory.