I first met Andy at Claire’s house in 2015. We struck up a conversation and he said: “You should come around and interview me. I’ve got plenty to tell”.  wo months later I went to Blackpool and spent some time with him at his home.

He was born in 1971 with a deformity in his left ankle. At 18 he had an operation to try to correct this and by chance he got to see his surgeon’s notes. His parents had told him his medical issues were because he’d had a stroke when he was born, but he read from the notes that he had Cerebral Palsy. This news made him ‘lose the plot’. He went into freefall and started taking drugs. He soon started trying harder and harder drugs.  By 21 he’d tried just about every type of drug in the country.  At 24 things had got really bad and he decided to kill himself by overdosing. Fortunately, he was found and rushed to hospital. 

He has a daughter from a long-term relationship who comes to stay with him several nights a week, but he has no other family because his mother and siblings have moved away. As much as Andy tries to give up drugs, he lives surrounded by his old drug mates and dealers which makes it very difficult.  He’d relapsed two weeks before my visit and it took him days to recover from it. His daughter was furious. He feels the only way to stop is to leave the area and go and live close to his family.

On my last trip to Blackpool I tried to get hold of Andy. Claire told me he had left the area. Some dealers from Liverpool had invaded his home and used it as a base for dealing. Eventually the police raided the house and closed it down. He turned state witness against the dealers and has been relocated by the authorities for his own safety.