Age saves teen drug dealer from being jailed
A teen dealer caught with £600 worth of drugs has avoided being locked up because of his age.
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar told 19-year-old Matthew Bell that he would suspend the inevitable jail term as he was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court.
Police pulled over a car on Stuart Road in Pontefract on June7 and could smell cannabis in the vehicle, prosecutor Temitayo Dasaolu said.
Bell had not been driving but when police asked them to get out of the car, he admitted he had cannabis on him. They found cannabis, bags and weighing scales - consistent with drug dealing.
They searched his home on Pontefract Road, Featherstone, where they found more of the drug.
In total, they found around £620 worth of the drug.
They also examined his mobile phone and found messages linked to dealing.
Bell made full admissions to police during interview and told them he bought an ounce of the drug at a time to sell to his friends, although this was disputed by the crown, with Miss Dasaolu saying: "The messages (on his phone) suggested it went beyond his circle of friends."
A probation report said Bell accepted responsibility, that he had left he Armed Forces, was out of work and was dealing to support his own cannabis habit. He also told probation that he was no longer using cannabis.
He admitted a charge of possession of cannabis with an intent to supply. He has no previous convictions.
Mitigating, Harry Crowson said: "He had the maturity to fully co-operate with police.
"He has now learned the proper way to earn a living.
"He has stopped smoking cannabis and said goodbye to the friends that led him down that path. This has scared him."
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar gave him a six-month sentence, but suspended it for 12 months, gave him 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and told him to pay £400 costs.
He said: "It's only because of your age that I'm not going to send you to custody.
"You are someone who has had no other brushes with the law.
"I don't know how long you were carrying on in this trade, but it's certain it was a regular thing you were doing."