A convicted drug dealer’s fingerprints were found on a stash of drugs hidden behind a garage near Rugby town centre less than five months after he came out of prison.
Now Martin Jones is back behind bars after being jailed for three years by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
Jones, 22, of Ferndown Road, Rugby, had pleaded guilty to charges of being concerned in the supply of heroin and cannabis between September and December last year.
He entered his plea on the basis that he had assisted a drug dealer by doing some ‘bagging-up’ before hiding the drugs for the dealer, in return for which he got his own supply of heroin cheaper.
That was rejected by prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith who maintained that Jones was involved in supplying drugs himself.
And on the day the case was listed at the court for a ‘trial of issue,’ Jones abandoned his basis of plea and accepted he had been dealing.
Mr Grieves-Smith had said that at the end of September last year concern was raised by local residents about drug-dealing in an alleyway near to the park in central Rugby.
The police were sent a photograph one resident had taken of a suspected dealer who was identified as Jones, who had only been released from a three-year sentence in May.
At the beginning of October a police community support officer who was checking the alleyway could smell cannabis, and found a plastic carrier bag hidden in a gap next to a garage.
In it were two more bags containing ten re-sealable bags of cannabis worth around £120, 10.6 grams of heroin with a street value of £1,060 and a set of digital scales.
Mr Grieves-Smith pointed out: “It’s quite common for drug dealers who operate in a public area to have a stash where the majority of the drugs are kept, rather than carrying them all around.”
Jones’s fingerprints were found on some of the bags, but when he was arrested and interviewed in December he made ‘no comment’ replies to questions put to him about the drugs.
But analysis of his phone revealed text messages which showed he had ‘continued to concern himself in the supply of drugs in early December,’ said Mr Grieves-Smith.
The court heard that at the time he was on licence from a three-year prison sentence imposed in April 2012 for supplying crack cocaine.
Andrew Tucker, defending, observed: “This was, it would seem, a pretty amateurish operation.
“The facts don’t show anything more than the drugs being stored virtually in the open air where they could come to the attention of anyone who may have been in the area.”
But Mr Tucker conceded: “He is somebody who undoubtedly has aggravated his position by the fact that he had not long before been involved in a not dissimilar field of operation.
“He was released from prison and found it difficult to get work, and very sadly became involved in the matter Your Honour has to deal with him for.”
He added that Jones was ‘not an unintelligent person,’ having gained nine GCSEs, and ‘is someone with the capacity to mature.’
Jailing Jones, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You are here because of what the police found in a carrier bag back in October last year, which was about ten-and-a-half grams of heroin and twelve-and-a-half grams of cannabis; and your fingerprints were found on the bag.
“You do not need me to tell you that class A drugs ruin people’s lives.
“You played a significant role in this admittedly small and unsophisticated operation, but it is aggravated by the fact that you were on licence at the time.
“You are still very young. You are not someone with no qualifications and no hope for leading a normal life. There is ample time for you to put this behind you and start again.”
But she warned him: “Next time will be the third time, and there is a minimum sentence of seven years. I hope the sentence I pass today is something you can use to draw a line under all of this.”