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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucester drug dealer sentenced

A 25 year old man who fled London after the gangland killings of eight of his friends was tracked down to Gloucester by drug dealers who forced him to deal in crack cocaine in the city, a court heard last week.

James Haskell prosecuting explained to Gloucester Crown Court that on January 30, 2023, Joshua Smith was observed by police officers conducting a drug exchange and they followed him to a flat on Great Western Road.

"The officers waited outside and when he left the property Smith was challenged and arrested during which there was a brief struggle," the prosecutor said.

"Smith was found to be in possession of three wraps of cocaine, two mobile phones and £300 in cash. The police then entered the address he had just appeared from and found a rucksack containing another four grams of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia.

"Smith's home address in Worcester Parade, Gloucester, was also searched and a further quantity of crack cocaine was discovered, along with train tickets to and from London."

The court was told that in total the police recovered 35grams of crack cocaine, which in street deals is valued at £3,500, and that Smith's mobile phones contained text messages consistent with drug dealing in connection with a county lines drugs operation.

Catherine Spedding, defending Smith, said that he had written to the court explaining that he was deeply affected by the loss of eight friends following gangland killings.

She added: "As a result Smith relocated to Gloucester, but his contact with the gang culture in London came back to haunt him and was forced to become involved in being a drug dealer.

"Immediately on being remanded in custody, he stopped taking drugs and realising he is going to spend some time in prison, he set about gaining qualifications to enter the renovation industry on his release."

Smith pleaded guilty to possessing a quantity of cocaine with intent to supply on January 30, 2023.

The judge, recorder James Bromige told Smith: "There is scant detail how you became involved in dealing illegal drugs. You initially mounted a defence of duress. There is no evidence you were involved in such gangs, but you will be aware of the harm drugs causes to families of addicts.

"You will also be aware that county lines operators face immediate prison sentences. Your prison term will be two years and nine months."

The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and paraphernalia and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

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