A CARLISLE drugs criminal has been allowed to keep his 'expensive' iPhone after he pleaded with a judge for it not to be destroyed.

Malcolm John Nicholson, 35, currently serving a 32 month jail sentence after he was caught with heroin worth more than £10,000, appeared before a judge at Carlisle Crown Court so he could make a direct appeal to keep his most expensive phone.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke asked Recorder Neville Biddle to approve an order which would lead to the destruction of the three phones Nicholson had when he was arrested for possessing heroin with intent to supply - two Nokia devices and an iPhone8.

Mr Burke told the judge: "It's a drugs supply case.

"The devices - if retained and preserved - in the possession of others will assist in the furtherance of that trade."

Initially, Recorder Biddle said he could see no reason why he should not make an order for the destruction of all three phones.

But Nicholson's defence barrister Kate Barnes told the judge that the defendant objected to the destruction of his iPhone, which he regarded as his "personal" mobile.

"The crown produced no evidence to show that it was used in the furtherance of this offending," she said.

"There's no reason why it could not be reset to its factory settings."

Any existing data on the device could be erased.

"It's an expensive item," said the barrister, adding that it was not appropriate for it to be simply destroyed when it could be reset.

Mr Burke then suggested a "practical" way forward, asking the defendant to provide the phone's pass-code so that the device could be checked by the police before it is returned to one of the defendant's family members.

Recorder Biddle ruled that the two Nokia phones should be destroyed, but he agreed not to order the destruction of the iPhone.

In the original case against Nicholson, his barrister said he was a long-term drug user who had become involved in the this enterprise is that he himself had a drugs debt of some significance.

"He was prevailed upon to become involved," the barrister told the court.