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Police investigate apparent bid to frame reporter for drug possession

Jason RobertsA court reporter has claimed he is being targeted in a long-running campaign of intimidation – including an apparent attempt to frame him for possession of heroin.

Detectives are investigating after journalist Jason Roberts was sent a package of the class A drug in the post, which he believes was delivered to him as part of a sustained campaign which has been carried out over the last two years.

Jason, pictured, covers court cases on the Isle of Man as a freelance, having previously worked for Isle of Man Newspapers and Manx Radio on the island.

Tests have since confirmed the item in the package was heroin and an investigation has been launched by police, although no arrests have yet been made over the incident.

Jason received the package from the UK mainland on Thursday at the Miller’s T’Ale micropub in Peel, which he helps to run.

When it was opened, it was found to contain a small quantity of brown powder wrapped in ziploc bags, bubble wrap and cardboard.

Police were immediately informed, and a short time later an officer arrived to take possession of the package and take witness statements from both of the pub’s designated officials.

Neither Jason nor the other designated official are being treated as suspects, and officers did not raid the bar or arrest anybody, but comments were later posted on social media claiming Jason had been arrested – leading him to suspect the sender had the goal of framing him.

Jason, who began his career at the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo, told HTFP: “I’ve sat through court cases where people have had drugs posted to them, they’ve signed for the package and then been raided for drugs.

“There are harsh sentences on the Isle of Man and whoever it was hoped it would be picked up and signed for.”

Over the past two years, Jason has been threatened inside a courtroom by a man awaiting sentence for using threatening behaviour and witnessed a man convicted of drugs offences flashing his genitals outside the court building.

He has also been threatened in a pub by a man accused of beating his daughter and had to change his mobile phone number.

Jason said: “The Isle of Man is a pretty small place so it’s pretty difficult to get away from anybody. I’ve never come across anything as serious as this in the 30 years since I qualified.”

“I’ve put up with some threats over particular stories but I’ve never come across such a sustained outpouring of anger. I’ve been threatened on several occasions and had to call the police half a dozen times. It’s really gone over the top.”

Superintendent Stephen Maddocks confirmed to the Isle of Man Examiner that tests on the powder delivered to Jason had confirmed it to be heroin.

He told the newspaper: “Police are investigating a small amount of class A drugs that have been sent to an address on the west of the island.

“We are not classing Mr Roberts as a suspect at this time.

“We are keeping an open mind at this moment about exactly why these drugs were sent to this address and no arrests have been made.”