A DRUG dealer who lived “a life of luxury” has been locked up – but he will still be able to enjoy the expensive goods he bought with cash he made when he is freed.
Daniel Sharples (27) had been found to have cannabis, worth £1,400 on the streets, hidden in different parts of his house when police raided the rented property in Furness Street, Burnley, last September.
Sharples, who has epilepsy, received £1,200 in benefits every month and smoked about £800 worth of drugs, also had about £1,000 cash in his pocket.
The town’s crown court had been told how as well as the drug stashes and the money, police discovered his house was full of high value electrical goods, including a very large American-style fridge freezer, a £700 47in. flat screen television, surround sound systems, an X-box, and a DVD player, as well as costly leather sofas and designer clothing and footwear.
The defendant had claimed he paid for his heavy drugs habit and the luxury items from his benefits and with the help of his mother.
Sharples had admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply, on the basis he would sometimes sell drugs to friends only at cost price and didn’t make a penny. The Crown did not accept it and a trial over the facts had been held in which the prosecution had successfully argued he must have been making money as he was living beyond his means and there was no other explanation for his lifestyle and the cash.
But, when Sharples was sentenced, the prosecution told the court it would not be seeking a proceeds of crime hearing. That means Sharples gets to keep the costly goods the prosecution say were paid for by drugs. The money has been taken off him.
Recorder Nick Clarke, QC, had not accepted the defendant’s evidence at the trial and said: “There must have been a commercial element, to enable him to live a lifestyle beyond the means provided by the state.”
The judge, who added he was “stuck with the prosecution’s decision not to have a proceeds of crime investigation”, jailed Sharples for eight months.
Prosecutor Mr David Macro said when police went to the defendant’s house they discovered 140g. of cannabis in different parts of the house, but mostly in a TV unit in the lounge and in a kitchen cupboard and also 32 snap bags.
Mr Macro said the defendant was interviewed and told officers he used between £20 and £30 of cannabis a day.
Mr Philip Holden (defending) said: “The defendant has the record of a long-standing cannabis user, rather than a cannabis dealer.”
Sentencing, Recorder Clarke said Sharples had sought to minimise the extent of his drug dealing to try and explain away all the expensive goods at his home. It was apparent from his evidence the figures he provided did not add up.
The judge said the defendant had been caught red-handed, but attempted to deceive the police and the court. He had shown no genuine remorse and had “lied comprehensively” about his financial circumstances. Reorder Clarke said Sharples’s epilepsy had not interfered with what was “otherwise an active and luxurious lifestyle.”
The judge added: “The public would be appalled if epilepsy were allowed to excuse you a jail sentence when you were still able to go a gym and enjoy all the trappings of a drug dealer’s lifestyle.”