December 5, 2013
A heroin addict has been condemned by a judge for abusing and dealing in drugs after his life was saved by an NHS heart transplant operation.
Derek Gates, 38, was cleared for surgery by doctors even though his heart problems were caused by drug addiction.
But instead of mending his ways, he responded by stepping up his criminal behaviour.
Gates went back on heroin, became a dealer and committed 23 drugs offences in a seven-year period after his transplant.
Yesterday the case provoked outrage as transplant survivors questioned whether the drug addict should have been given his new heart above others on the waiting list.
Gates was jailed for 18 months at Hull Crown Court on Monday.
The recorder, Rachim Singh, passed sentence after hearing police found £430 worth of heroin as well as cannabis and valium tablets in his flat in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, last month.
Mr Singh told Gates: ‘Quite what an individual who has had a heart transplant is doing with these type of drugs defies explanation.’
Gates will be allowed to visit his hospital cardiologist from prison. He has refused to co-operate with probation workers who want him to quit drugs.
The court heard details of his criminal history, mostly dating from after his transplant 12 years ago.
Gates has 32 previous convictions, which include 23 drugs offences committed from 2006 onwards.
He is no stranger to prison, having been jailed for two-and-a-half years in 2009 for supplying Class A drugs.
His medical history means he cannot be sentenced to do community work since the authorities are unable to get insurance for him.
In 2001, aged just 26 and already an addict, he had the heart transplant. It is understood that he needed the operation because his body had been severely damaged by drug use.