Packets of cocaine fell from wanted man’s pockets as police chased him

NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.
NEWS from Nottingham Crown Court.

Items that fell from the pockets of a wanted Bulwell man while he was being chased through gardens by police led to his arrest and a suspended prison-sentence.

As James McLaughlin was trying to climb a fence to escape, two packets and two mobile phones dropped to the ground, Nottingham Crown Court.

When seized, the packets were found to contain 11.76 grams of cocaine worth £330. And when one of the phones was analysed, text messages showed that McLaughlin had been involved in dealing drugs.

The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to be supervised by probation officers for 18 months and carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Gareth Gimson, prosecuting, told the court that McLaughlin was arrested on December 20, 2014 when Pc Gavin Hall spotted him and realised he was a man wanted for breach of a probation order.

Mr Gimson said: ‘One of the text messages read: Jam, it’s Scott from The Magpie. Can you sort me a bag.’

“The following day, McLaughlin sent a message to 13 people that read: ‘Absolute fire’. Because ‘fire’ is slang for cocaine, this was effectively an advert saying that he had good cocaine for sale.”

Mr Gimson said McLaughlin was involved in street dealing to other users of cocaine, friends and associates. It was to fund his own habit but also to make some commercial profit.

The court heard that the offence breached a suspended prison-sentence that had been imposed on the defendant in May 2014 for eight offences of handling stolen goods.

However, two days after the cocaine arrest, he was placed on a drug-rehabilitation programme, which transformed his life, said his barrister, Felicity Campbell, mitigating.

“Until then, he was in the depths of cocaine use, which was becoming extreme,” said Miss Campbell. “He was unable to fund it alone and therefore sold cocaine to sustain his lifestyle. He was on a downward spiral.

“However he ended the programme abstinent, with negative tests, and the change in his outlook has been considerable.”

As well as a pre-sentence report by the probation service, the judge, Recorder Roger Evans, read a “powerfully written” letter of support from McLaughlin’s partner, Laura Wade, who had recently given birth to their first child.

The judge told him: “It is clear that you have made a significant change in your life. However, your past has come back to haunt you cruelly and severely.

“You have come within an ace of going to prison for a very long time indeed. This is your chance. Please take it.”