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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbrian drug dealer too harshly punished, says Appeal Court

A Carlisle dealer who branded users ‘mugs’ and turned to dealing when he was made redundant has had his jail sentence cut after judges ruled he had been too harshly punished.

Lee Richard Burton photo
Lee Richard Burton

Lee Richard Burton, 42, of Windscale Way, Morton, was described as a ‘professional dealer’ who became involved with drugs to make money.

Burton, who had text messages on his phone telling an accomplice “taking cocaine is for mugs”, was described as a family man who turned to drugs after being made redundant.

He was jailed for eight years at Carlisle Crown Court last October after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and conspiracy to supply cocaine.

But Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Stadlen, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, cut his sentence to five years yesterday, after ruling he was punished too harshly.

The court heard that Burton was being investigated for the possession charge when he was arrested and charged with the much more serious conspiracy, which involved him “recruiting” a woman and using her home as a “safe house” for dealing.

However, that was not the case, his lawyers told the Appeal Court.

Judge Paul Batty QC, at Carlisle, had sentenced him on the basis that he had been on bail for the first offence when he embarked on the conspiracy.

He told him: “You were not yourself a cocaine user, so yours is a case where you were involved in cocaine dealing for profit – for easy money.

“This was professional drug-dealing on a significant scale and it has to be sentenced accordingly.”

In light of Judge Batty’s mistaken belief, Mr Justice Stadlen, delivering the court's judgement, cut three years off his total term.

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