Drug peddling and dangerous driving

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Helen Gavaghan, Bradford, Crown Court (UK), 11th April, 2017

In the two news reports below I am not including the names of those sentenced today for crimes of, respectively, peddling Class A drugs (crack cocaine), and dangerous driving and driving without insurance. That is because the story arguably is not about the individuals who committed the crimes, but rather significant wrongs to society and its individual members that the actions of each convicted man is an example of. In both cases the sentencing judge was His Honour Judge Roger Thomas QC, the recorder of Bradford.

Dangerous driving and driving without insurance
An exasperated Judge Thomas QC showed no interest in sentencing the 19-year-old young man to anything other than an immediate custodial sentence. In his honour's opinion Bradfordians are exposed to too many young men driving dangerously, and he wanted to send a message to the wider community that such behaviour was unacceptable.

Presentencing, the prosecution played a short video in which the convicted man who was being sentenced was shown to do a three point turn on a dark road in front of a car, which turned out to be an unmarked police car with recording equipment. The police turned on their blue light, and pursued the vehicle which had performed the manoeuvre, but the driver did not stop. The police recorded the car's actions. The Court saw footage of the driver - holder of a full driving licence - weave down the road, swerving at one point from oncoming traffic, speeding away from the police, driving in a manner oblivious to the traffic calming measure of speed bumps, taking corners too fast, loosing control, mounting the pavement, bumping a bus stop, turning right and cutting up another driver legitimately doing the same thing, before being encouraged to a stop, and the car boxed in by the pursuing police car. Then, said the judge, the driver tried to run away. The driver said he panicked. The driver had no insurance, and had said when asked about this matter that he tried to get insurance, but couldn't. The judge concluded the driver was knowingly driving without insurance.

Having sent the young man down for four months, and imposed an obligatory driving disqualification and surcharge, his honour moved down his list.

Operation Saucer Lake and Babyline
In this case, the young man being sentenced had been caught up in a police operation to get dealing in Class A drugs off the streets of Keighley. The police operation was called Operation Saucer, and the police aim was to put an end to a sophisticated Class A supply operation called Babyline.

Defence counsel advocacy on behalf of the client, plus the client's remorse, his somewhat lesser role in Babyline, and the client's early plea of guilty reduced the length of his sentence to four concurrent 27-month custodial sentences imposed immediately.

The prosecution outlined the sales made by the man sent down, which were made to an undercover police officer. The crack cocaine supplied was 68 percent, 71 percent, and then 75 percent purity. Each sale was £10.00.

This case was one of several in which people were prosecuted as a result of Operation Saucer Lake, and this particular person was arrested at Heathrow before boarding a plane to India.

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