Cannabis dealer walks free after judge blasts court delay

Prosecutor Nicholas Lee told Gloucester Crown Court on Thursday that Jacob Gillingham’s offence dated back to May 25, 2021 when police in Cricklade Road, Cirencester saw him pull up in his car into a parking area.

Officers smelt cannabis when the doors opened as Gillingham and his companion went into a nearby convenience store.

Police spotted what they believed to be bags of cannabis and Gillingham, of The Hayes, Salperton, was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

The car was searched and £435 in cash was found plus 200grams of cannabis and Gillingham had £875 in his wallet.

More cannabis was found at his home along with £335 cash, drug paraphernalia and a mobile phone containing evidence of drug dealing dating back to June 2020, said Mr Lee.

The value of the seized was between around £2,300 and £3,900, the court heard.

Judge Anthony Lowe quizzed the prosecutor: “That’s almost two years ago. What’s been going on?

“How are we meant to deliver justice under these circumstances?”

Mr Lee said he couldn’t offer a lot in the way of explanation, but stated that Gillingham’s passenger also had to be investigated but no charges were brought.

He also explained that Gillingham had been convicted seven months after being arrested on the same occasion for being in charge of a vehicle while intoxicated through drugs but he didn’t know why this case was not connected with it.

Simon Blakebrough, defending, said Gillingham was an apprentice electrician who was furloughed during the pandemic and that was when he turned to drug dealing.

Mr Blakebrough added: “Gillingham has not been charged with drug dealing during this whole period but accepts the charge he faces of having cannabis on that day with intent to supply. The two year delay of this case coming to court is not the fault of the defendant.

“Gillingham has no previous convictions prior to this incident. He is a hard-working man who is trustworthy and is due to take his exams shortly, if he retains his liberty today.

“Gillingham is remorseful over his actions as a 20-year-old and is very sorry to all concerned. He was immature at the time. Now as a 22-year-old, he has already taken steps to turn his life around in that he has stopped his substance misuse and has demonstrated that he has a worthwhile future.

“He states he is no longer the person he was two years ago.”

Gillingham pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis on May 25, 2021 with the intent to supply.

Judge Lowe said: “Drug dealers go to prison. You were arrested in May 2021 and it is only now that you are appearing before the court.

“This delay is unacceptable, especially when the defendant was still effectively a teenager or had just turned 20 when he was arrested.

“You are still working and have had no further run-ins with the police.

“Because of the delay I am not sentencing you to prison.”

A 12 month community order was imposed plus a £1,000 fine.

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