A FORMER user of legal highs, who told the Adver how the substances nearly killed him, has been convicted of possessing “super cocaine”.
Steven Ross, 38, spent six weeks in hospital after injecting the potent illegal chemical, which is also known as MDVP, into his arms.
The conviction is believed to be the first since police and other town agencies began a crackdown at the end of last year.
Ross told the Adver back in January that he would have died if he had waited any longer to be admitted to hospital.
At one point he was told at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford that his condition was so serious he might need a new heart valve.
But he recovered and was transferred to Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
Ross was convicted at Swindon Magistrates Court on Wednesday of three counts of possessing MDVP, a Class B substance.
He had been arrested three days in a row between December 31, 2011 and January 2, 2012.
The former caterer was found with 18.12 grams on the first occasion, 8.07 on the second, and 8.73 on the third.
MDVP was one of several substances blamed for a wave of health problems, including several deaths, which has abated in the past four months after a concerted public health campaign.
Ross, who lives in sheltered housing in Swindon town centre, received a two-year conditional discharge for three counts of possession of MDVP, also known as methylenedioxypyrovalerone.
He said: “I was arrested three days in a row but I was massively under the influence of legal highs. They send you loopy.
“I bought them from a mate over New Year and it was before I went to hospital. I haven’t taken them since, though I have used other stuff.
“Legal highs are still out there on the internet and you can’t tell what's legal and what isn’t. I’m just glad it’s all over to be honest.”
Swindon police, backed by other agencies in the town, have cracked down on the substances since the end of 2011 and made a series of arrests.
The Adver revealed on Monday how information packs targeted at users, initially distributed by drug and alcohol outreach services, have become the latest tool to fight the problem.
Swindon police chief Supt Gavin Williams said: “Because of the risks involved our approach remains very clear.
“Legal doesn’t necessarily mean legal and legal doesn't mean safe.
“We will continue to take a robust approach because of the harm these substances are causing to individuals and communities. Sentencing is a matter for the courts and we will respect the court’s judgement.”