Appeal judges cut Rugby dealer’s sentence

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An alcoholic jailed after he was caught selling drugs to undercover police officers today had his “excessive” sentence slashed by appeal judges.

John Henry Berrill, 41, of Siddaway House, Dale Close, Rugby, was caught last September in an operation to clamp down on street dealing in the town.

He admitted four counts of supplying heroin and one of supplying crack cocaine and was jailed for four years at Warwick Crown Court in April.

But last week, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London said the sentence was too long and cut it to two years and eight months.

Giving judgment, Lord Justice Moses said it was understandable that the crown court judge took a serious view, but the sentence was too long.

The court heard Berrill was caught out several times in September last year, selling small quantities of drugs to undercover police officers in Rugby.

Berrill, who had his own drug and alcohol problems, said he did not keep the money, but handed it over to his supplier and received no payment.

Lord Justice Moses said Berrill had shown in the past that he could stay out of trouble, but had relapsed and gone back to committing crimes.

Previously, he had been convicted of a series of offences, most for theft and damaging property, but had no other convictions for drug crimes.

Allowing the appeal, the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Nicol and Mr Justice Lindblom, said the sentence did not fit in with guidelines on drugs crime.

“One well understands why the local judge rightly took a serious view of this behaviour in the context of the local conditions, of which he was aware,” he said.

“It was, however, incumbent upon him to pay due regard to the relevant definitive guideline for drug offences.

“The total sentence of four years does not seem to us accurately to reflect the advice given in the guidelines.”

The sentence was cut to two years and eight months.