Judge Richard Shepherd told Portsmouth Crown Court that Tyler Penton’s peddling of drugs was ‘not the usual type of case’ he is often encountered with when sentencing for such crimes.
The 24-year-old’s Paulsgrove address was searched after suspicions were alerted after police could smell cannabis coming from his Ford Focus on Portsdown Hill in 2019.
Drug paraphernalia, two bags of cannabis and traces of cocaine along with £400 cash were also found in the car with Penton’s behaviour unwittingly triggering a search of his address.
‘He was anxious to let his mum know (about his arrest) and police thought he might have something to dispose of at home,’ prosecutor Beverley Cherrill said.
A search at the property backed up the officers’ suspicions as a ‘small grow’ of cannabis plants were found in the shed and house.
‘Deal bags’ were also found which a forensic scientist confirmed had traces of medium purity cocaine.
The cannabis was thought to be ‘trimmings’ rather than ‘high grade’.
‘Most plants were dead and were not yielding and there were only three plants,’ Ms Cherrill said.
Police seized the drug equipment and a telephone.
Summing up the operation, the prosecutor added: ‘There was limited financial gain if any at all. He was selling to friends and friends of friends. It was a very small enterprise.’
Judge Shepherd recounted a tale of how he used to ‘skim stones’ in mud near his house in Barnsley growing up before applying the memory as a metaphor to Penton. ‘I thought you were going to be one of the stones that slipped and got buried in the mud,’ he said.
The judge went on to reveal that as he listened to the case he realised Penton was not in fact one of those stones - an apparent reference to more prolific dealers who get lost in the plight of their activities and criminal justice system.
‘You have rehabilitated yourself over the last two years. You help your sister and mum,’ he said.
Despite conceding jail was ‘so close’, judge Shepherd concluded: ‘If ever there was a chance to give someone a chance this is that moment.’
After imposing a 16-month jail term suspended for two years, the judge handed employed Penton, of Chedworth Crescent, 300 hours of unpaid work and told him to pay £500 costs.
‘Growing drugs, selling drugs and having drugs cause untold harm and misery in the community which is why I am going to make you work harder than you have ever done before to repay the community,’ judge Shepherd said.
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Penton admitted four charges including being concerned in the production of cannabis in 2019 from July 1 to September 10; supplying cocaine and cannabis in the same year from March 1 to September 10; and possessing cocaine on September 10.