June 9, 2022 6.30 pm

Barrister protest hits Lincoln Crown Court as heroin dealer sentencing delayed

The Criminal Bar Association insists this is not strike action

The sentence of a Boston drug dealer has been postponed until July after his case was adjourned because of protest action by crown court barristers.

Stacey Housham, 42, had been warned to expect jail after he admitted supplying cocaine and heroin to other users.

Housham pleaded guilty to four charges concerning Class A drugs when he appeared at Lincoln Crown Court in April. He was due to be sentenced after the preparation of a report by the Probation Service.

However his sentence hearing could not go ahead because of the “no returns” action where barristers have agreed not to accept cases that are returned by colleagues who have a diary clash.

A number of other cases at Lincoln Crown Court have been impacted by the “no returns” action which is nationwide.

The action results from a recent ballot in which 94% of Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members voted to no longer accept return work, though they will continue to attend court and accept cases of their own

The action – which the Criminal Bar Association stresses is not a ‘strike’ – is in response to the Ministry of Justice’s  response to the recommendations of a government-commissioned criminal legal aid review.

In February, criminal barristers voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting ‘no returns’ should the government refuse to increase criminal legal aid advocacy fees by 25%. The government’s package of criminal legal aid reform proposes a maximum 15% uplift, which would not come into force for months.

Housham, who was of no fixed address at the time of his offences, and is formerly of Collingwood Crescent, Boston, will now be sentenced on July 15.

The court heard Housham is now clean of drugs and had turned his life around.

He admitted possessing both cocaine and heroin with intent to supply others on February 10, 2020.

He also pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin to others between December 6, 2019, and February 11, 2020.