A 34-year-old man who plotted to secretly film celebrities, including singer Amy Winehouse, taking drugs so he could sell footage to newspapers was jailed for two years today.
Johnny Blagrove and girlfriend Cara Burton, 22, were charged with offering to supply drugs after a video of Winehouse apparently smoking a crack pipe during a party at her home emerged.
The pair sold the footage to The Sun newspaper for £50,000 but it was later passed to police.
They had planned to target other celebrities and also falsely claimed to reporters that they had a video of Peaches Geldof taking drugs, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
Blagrove, of Stepney Way, London, admitted two counts of offering to supply Class A drugs – cocaine and MDMA – and one of offering to supply Class B drugs, amphetamine.
Burton of Missingham, Scunthorpe, wept as she was handed a two-year community order by Judge Tudor Owen. She had pleaded guilty to two counts of offering to supply Class B drugs, amphetamine.
Burton, who obtained straight A grades in her A levels at a Catholic high school in Scunthorpe, planned to buy a house with her boyfriend with the money she received from The Sun.
Her bank account was later frozen. A court hearing in April will determine what will happen to the money.
Judge Owen commented: “It appears the defendants’ motive was to make money by selling the story. £50,000 is a lot of money.”
Police found a list of celebrities the couple intended to target when they searched their home. Officers also seized video equipment, a dictation machine and a notebook headed “rules”, detailing how they would sell their footage to newspapers.
A further tape was also found, not filmed at Winehouse’s home, which showed Burton offering to supply drugs to a friend.
Judge Owen ordered the forfeiture and destruction of those items.
The judge watched the grainy video which showed Winehouse discussing drugs and singing incoherently, and said it was a “peculiar” case.
Owen added that the sentence was passed solely for Blagrove’s offer to supply drugs, not for the sale of the video footage.
He told the court: “A more public spirited person would have handed it to the police, rather than making money from it.
“But it would be quite wrong to punish him for that.”
Grammy award-winning Winehouse, seen snorting a substance from a card in the video, was arrested in connection with the case in May.
Andrew Henley, representing Blagrove, said: “Amy Winehouse was interviewed and admitted she had taken substances believed to be crack cocaine and MDMA.
“But she questioned what they were, because they had no effect on her.”
No charges were brought against her, because it could not be proved the substances she was seen taking were illicit drugs, the court heard.
After seeing the video, Judge Owen said: “You see Ms Winehouse given something, snorting it, and then the obvious reaction.
“Her voice changes from how it has been to a rather curiously high pitched voice.”
The judge asked if he could draw a “reasonable inference” from the video, but Paul Raednitz, prosecuting, told him there was evidence to prove what the substance was.
The video showed Blagrove boasting to others at the party: “I’ve got coke. Proper wicked coke, banging coke.”
He denies supplying drugs to Winehouse however, telling a female friend: “To Amy? No.
“I’m not going to sell anything to Amy. She’s had enough as it is.”
There is no evidence Blagrove did supply any drugs, the court was told and none were found when he and his girlfriend were searched after being arrested.
Winehouse appears to be slurring her speech in sections of the video, taken in the early hours of 18 January this year.
The final scene shown to the court sees Blagrove laughing to himself after telling his reflection in a bathroom mirror: “You have succeeded. You have done it.
“You are going places. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally got what I wanted.”
He gave Burton a three-month curfew order, requiring her to stay at home between 7pm and 7am. Burton, whose mother sobbed as she watched the proceedings from the public gallery, told the judge she understood the terms of the order.
The court heard she was a woman of previous good character, while Blagrove had 28 previous convictions, including one drugs offence.
Eamonn Sherry, defending Burton, said she was “gravely embarrassed and gravely humiliated” by her involvement in the case.
Judge Owen said that he accepted Burton was not the “prime mover” in the case, but was “led along” by her boyfriend