A judge has demanded answers from the police about why it took two and a half years to bring a drug dealer’s case to court.
Rhys Bond had to wait from April 2015 to October 2017 to be sentenced even though he walked into a police station and made a full confession.
He was caught with a cricket ball sized lump of cocaine hidden inside a safe under a bed at his mother’s home in Paignton when it was raided on April 4, 2015.
A sum of £2,500 cash was seized from the same safe and one of the reasons for the delay has been a prolonged dispute about whether the money belonged to him or his mother.
Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, said the delay in the case was wholly unacceptable and beggared belief but spared Bond a jail sentence because he has used the intervening period to tackle his own drug problem.
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Locked up in Devon in September 2017
Bond, aged 28, of Elmsleigh Lodge, Paignton, admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was ordered to undergo 12 months drug rehabilitation and do 25 days of rehabilitation activities with the probation service.
The judge told him:”It is wholly unacceptable there has been a two and a half year delay in this case, which beggars belief. I am going to reduce the sentence because of the unsatisfactory history of the case.
“If I had sentenced you at the time, even with credit for your plea you would have received two or three years, so in a sense the delay has worked in your favour.
“In the meantime, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. You have performed impressively in reacting to other community sentences and have engaged voluntarily in relation to your heroin habit.
“You are on a reducing script and that must have required strength. For these reasons, it would be wrong to send you to prison today, and I am not going to.”
The judge asked the prosecution to provide a report within three weeks with a full explanation of the delay in the case.
Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said the case had not been sent to the CPS for a charging decision until late last year and there had been a further delay of eight months before Bond was taken to court.
He said the delay may be linked to proceedings about what would happen to the £2,500, but these should not have held up the criminal case.
He said the 89 grams of cocaine with a street value of £3,500 were seized in a police raid on Bond’s mother’s house on April 4, 2015.
He went to the police on April 27, 2015, and said the drugs were his and that he had been asked to store them for another man, who he did not name.
Paul Dentith, defending, said a probation report showed Bond was working well under supervision and has weaned himself off heroin and onto methadone with the support of the Walnut Lodge drugs project.
He said he agreed to warehouse the drugs as a favour to a dealer because he owed money for heroin but was not going to be paid for it.
Source: Devon live