A 26-year-old South Cerney man has been jailed four years and ten months for ‘significant’ drug dealing after police discovered £18,000 worth of cocaine and almost £40,000 in cash at his mobile home.
Alun Williams, prosecuting, told Gloucester Crown Court yesterday (June 23) that on August 26 last year police executed a search warrant at the home of Aaron Morris at the Four Acres Caravan Park, South Cerney.
His caravan was searched and five mobile phones were seized.
“But what this case is really about is what was found in an unlocked shed, an outbuilding close to the caravan which contained domestic white goods,” Mr Williams said.
“The police also discovered £37,710 in cash inside the building and 175 grams of cocaine along with various drug paraphernalia including scales and packaging.
“A number of shotgun cartridges were also found.
“Morris was identified through his fingerprint and DNA, found on a container of cocaine, and through his use of the five mobile phones found in his caravan.
“An analysis of the phones revealed that thousands of drug dealing text messages had been sent on more than 100 different occasions. This meant that Morris had a significant role in drug dealing.”
Morris made no comment to police after arrest.
He initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of being concerned in cocaine supply between December 31, 2020 and August 27 last year and a jury was sworn in last month to try him at the Cirencester ‘Nightingale’ Courthouse.
But after the judge, Recorder Malcolm Gibney, rejected defence legal submissions that some of the prosecution evidence should not be allowed to go before the jury Morris changed his plea to guilty.
Gerard Hillman, defending, said yesterday “Yes, it is agreed that Morris pleaded guilty at a late stage, but it did save the court time in hosting a trial.”
The judge, Recorder David Chidgey observed: “The evidence against Morris is overwhelming as there were thousands of messages on his phones and consequently there must have been a lot of drugs supplied, even if he had only a small response.”
Mr Hillman added: “Morris made a mistake in getting involved when he had built up a drug debt and was trapped into dealing in order to pay this back.
“He is effectively a man of good character and is remorseful about his actions. He states he cares for his mother and his partner is expecting their second child later this year.”
Recorder Chidgey told Morris: “You could have pleaded guilty at an earlier stage as taking this matter to trial would have been totally unrealistic on the evidence.
“Drug dealing is selfish. It happens when people are prepared to ignore the damage that Class A drugs do to people and to communities.
“I have no evidence that this was a county lines case, but the evidence suggests it was a professional operation similar to that of a county lines operation.
“You sent some 12,000 messages over 106 occasions from the five phones.
“Around £40,000 was seized in cash and the amount of drugs was significant.
“The total amount of drugs seized is worth approximately £18,800 in individual street deals.
“I accept that you were dealing to service your drug debt. However the scale of the operation meant that you had a significant role for some eight months while you were the custodian of the drugs.”
The judge jailed Morris for four years and ten months. He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs, the phones and the shotgun cartridges and the confiscation of the monies found.
Morris was warned that he faced a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing in due course.