Dealer hid cannabis 'stash' in wardrobe
DRUG addict Lee James has been jailed for dealing cannabis after being released from prison on licence.
Police raided the 48-year-old's home four months before his last sentence for drugs offences expired.
They recovered six small bags of cannabis, with a street value of £60, and found a stash worth £210 in his wardrobe.
Police also seized a mobile phone containing text messages from people asking to buy drugs, along with digital scales and two packets of clear, resealable bags.
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Following the raid, on December 23 last year, James pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply, but only on the basis that he was looking after the large bag for a family member.
He claimed the six small amounts were for his own use and he divided them up in case he was stopped by police while he was out, so his whole stash was not taken away from him.
The Crown Prosecution Service did not accept his plea, and a trial of issue was held at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.
Giving evidence, James claimed he had not sold cannabis. He said: "I use cannabis because I've come off a lot of medication, diazepam and methadone. I use cannabis to sleep really.
"I never replied to the texts. I'm known for cannabis so people do ask me for things but that doesn't mean I give them things. I can't be held responsible for what people send to me.
"I haven't done anything wrong, except take cannabis."
Asked what he intended to do with the cannabis found by police, he said: "Smoke it over the Christmas period with the member of the family who was staying with me."
Judge Paul Glenn rejected his account and found James had been dealing. He said: "I'm satisfied the large bag was Mr James's stash. I reject his account that this was being held on behalf of another person. I found his evidence beggared belief.
"The six smaller bags were to be sold as deals. The texts quite clearly indicate Mr James was a street level dealer."
Peter McCartney, representing James, who has been before the courts repeatedly since he was 13, said: "He plainly has a problem with cannabis. It is a long standing habit.
"There was no commercial motive, save to cover his own costs and make it cheaper for himself."
The court heard James's criminal record included a 30-month prison sentence in 2004 for dealing heroin, and a 27-month sentence in 2010 for permitting premises to be used for the supply of heroin.
Following this, he was released in October 2010 and was still on licence when he was caught dealing cannabis.
Sentencing James, of Hamil Road, Burslem, to 15 months in prison, Judge Glenn said: "Your record and the fact this was committed while you were on licence are aggravating features. I sentence you on the basis that you were a street level dealer and you were making money from what you were doing."