Police twice caught 33-year-old Fabian Anthony with the class B drug, seizing cannabis worth just under £17,000. The defendant, of Coleridge Court, Keswick, pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson described the two offences.

Anthony came to the attention of the police when he was a passenger in a Kia car parked at the Mossdale Service Station, Carnforth, on the A6 on June 2, said the prosecutor.

A woman walking past the car noticed a “very strong” smell of cannabis.

“The smell coming from the vehicle was in fact so strong that she was concerned the driver of the vehicle might be under the influence,” said Mr Rogerson.  She thus alerted the police, who arrived a short time later.

The officers found cannabis in the defendant’s rucksack in various packages, totalling almost half a kilo. Anthony told one of the officers: “I’m not intending to supply; it’s just how it’s been given [to me].”

The officers also found that Anthony had an iPhone, but he refused to disclose the pin number.  Yet more cannabis was found at the defendant’s home address in Keswick, as well as digital scales and £1,940 cash was found hidden in a sofa.

When interviewed, the defendant gave no comment replies to questions.

He was released pending further police enquiries, which involved mobile phone data suggesting that Anthony had made a number of short trips to Manchester, in February, March and April.

Police made a return visit to the defendant’s home on September 7, intending to arrest him.

While there, they found yet more cannabis and more cash – a further £865 cash. In total, said Mr Rogerson, the amount of cannabis police found in the two visits and in the car amounted to 1.7 kilos, with a potential street value of £16,900.

An analysis of a mobile phone he was using revealed more evidence of dealing – messages from prospective customers, including some in which the defendant complained about being “ripped off.”

He also sent messages further up the crime chain asking for fresh cannabis supplies for himself, said Mr Rogerson. The defendant’s only criminal history, the court heard, was a previous conviction for drink driving.

Andrew Evans, defending, supplied the court with several character references. The barrister said: “The defendant comes before the Crown Court for the first time; and this has been his first experience of custody.

“These were, he would contend, desperate acts borne out of low mood, addiction and debt.” Mr Evans said Anthony had experienced a difficult upbringing, and had suffered a traumatic health emergency in his 20s.

“The conclusion of the pre-sentence report author is that this may amount to post-traumatic stress disorder.” The defendant had become unemployed because of the driving ban he was given after the drink driving conviction.

He had also suffered the loss of his grandfather and uncle, two men who had been a stabilising influence in his life.

Now free of drugs, the defendant had a substantial support network, and he was determined to get himself back to where he could have been, earning a living as an accomplished and hard-working plumber, said Mr Evans.

Judge Guy Mathieson said that the defendant had effectively settled on cannabis dealing as a “career option” after realising that by selling the drug he could turn a profit.

“The joy of criminality is that it’s tax free,” said the judge.

But that was a cynical decision on Anthony’s part, continued the judge, pointing out that there were people he could have turned to. Yet character references showed the defendant showed that he was regarded as a “good man.”

He was a hard-working man who could be depended upon.

“You knew those people [his support network] were there and, somewhat cynically, you took the decision to deal drugs,” said the judge.

Noting that he had to consider what is best for society, Judge Mathieson added: “I will give you one chance – and it will be once chance.

“This sentence is going to be suspended.”

He imposed 18 months jail, suspended for two years.  The sentence includes 240 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days. Anthony was warned that he will be returned to jail if he makes a mess complying with his sentence.

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