County Durham drug dealer ordered to pay more than £21,000

A drug dealer jailed for supplying ecstasy and possession of cocaine must now pay £21,282 in a crime proceeds confiscation.

But it is only a fifth of the benefit Liam Jones is said to have made from the trade in class A drugs.

The 31-year-old ex-serviceman is part of the way through a 40-month prison sentence, imposed at Durham Crown Court in October, after admitting possessing MDMA (ecstasy) with intent to supply and simple possession of cocaine.

He offered those pleas, which were accepted by the Crown, on the day his scheduled trial was due to start.

Jones, of Welfare Crescent, Blackhall Colliery, had previously denied possessing both of the class A drugs with intent to supply.

Read more: Blackhall Colliery drug dealer refused to reveal phone PIN to police

The court heard he was arrested on July 3, 2020, when police recovered quantities of cocaine, plus 101 ecstasy tablets, found in the runner of a sliding cupboard door in the main bedroom at his home.

Officers conducting the search also found some of the paraphernalia used by drug dealers, including scales and grip-seal bags.

But when they seized his phone for examination, which may have given a fuller picture of the extent of his drug transactions, he refused to provide his PIN.

On his return for the sentencing hearing, Jones’ counsel, Martin Scarborough, said not all of the money going through the defendant’s bank account was to do with drug sales, and he suggested there was a question as to whether he played a “significant” , or “lesser” role, in drug dealing.

Mr Scarborough said there was a, “joint pool arrangement” with friends to purchase drugs,

Following further discussion with his client, at Judge Ray Singh’s suggestion, Mr Scarborough said he no longer stood by those claims and accepted he played what in law is considered to be, “a significant role”.

Passing sentence, Judge Singh told Jones the true extent of the benefit of his dealing may never be known due to his failure to disclose the information on his phone.

But Judge Singh added: “What is apparent is the suggestion they were drugs only to be supplied for a pool of six friends is patently nonsense.”

He said the drugs recovered by police were worth £3,000 in sale terms and he pointed to unexplained credits of £12,000 going through his account.

Imposing the 40-month prison sentence he said it would have only been 30 months had the defendant pleaded guilty at the outset.

Read more: County Durham drug dealer Shaun Mason is jailed after fleeing to Spain

Crime proceeds inquiries have since taken place and on the return of the case to court today (Thursday July 28) Mr Scarborough said agreement has been reached with the police financial officer over the final figures.

Rachel Brown, prosecuting, said it was agreed that the defendant’s benefit from the offending was £103,420, but the available amount for confiscation is £21,282, in part made up with money seized from him on arrest, but also from the sale of a motor bike and car.

Judge Singh said the £21,282 must be paid in full within three months, with ten months’ imprisonment in default.

Read next: * Man with 500g of cocaine in car admits being a ‘courier’

* Low-level dealer faces possible first prison sentence

* Spennymoor man jailed for 54-months for possessing cocaine with intent to supply

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