WHEN the police questioned a driver about an alleged hit-and-run incident, in which a young Bedworth man died, they found thousands of messages relating to drugs deals on his phone.
Mandeep Singh Gill denied supplying cocaine but, on the day of his trial, he pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug.
And at Warwick Crown Court, following an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, the 22-year-old of Dorothy Powell Way, Walsgrave, Coventry, was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
The court heard he is still to face a trial in the magistrates court over an allegation of failing to stop after an accident in which 20-year-old Sean Morley was killed.
Prosecutor Faye Mellor said the drugs charge arose out of that incident in early September.
When Gill handed himself in at Nuneaton police station on September 3, officers retrieved his phone from a friend’s car.
The phone was then analysed and was found to contain more than 4,500 text messages, most of which related to the supply of controlled drugs between November 2011 and the date of his arrest.
Many of them referred specifically to cocaine through slang terms for the drug, and there were also references to quantities, such as ‘a bag for 40’ – a £40 deal of cocaine.
There were several regular customers, and references to people being allowed drugs on credit, as well as texts which made it clear the person being supplied was intending to sell the drugs on.
“It was obvious the user of the phone was involved in the supply of drugs and offering reduced prices for bulk buying,” said Miss Mellor, who pointed out that many incoming texts referred to Gill by name.
But when he was arrested again in December after the phone had been analysed, Gill answered ‘no comment’ to questions.
Miss Mellor added that Gill had pleaded guilty on the basis that someone else was using his phone for the sale of drugs, for which he would be paid in drinks or drugs for himself.
But he accepted he also introduced customers to the supplier and would often liaise between that man and customers, as well as driving the dealer around to make sales.
David Iles, defending, told the judge: “I accept that imprisonment is required. The only question is whether you feel able, in the light of what I am about to put before you, to suspend the sentence.”
He said Gill, who started a job two or three weeks ago, had no assets, and when the police searched his home they found no dealer lists or other things associated with drug dealing.
“But for the phone and its incriminating messages there is no evidence he was doing anything other than sticking to the straight and narrow.
“Had he stayed as being Mr Big, as was alleged, then game over; but ‘being concerned’ is one step back, and is aimed at stamping out facilitation of the scurrilous trade in drugs.”
Mr Iles said that Gill, who is addressing his drug and alcohol problem, has been suffering from depression.
“Just over a year ago a tragedy struck his family and the family of another when, in the small hours of the morning in the dark on an unlit road, he was driving a car when tragically a person was struck and killed.”
Following that incident in which Sean Morley was killed on the Bedworth by-pass, Gill was not charged with causing the death, but with failing to stop, ‘what is popularly referred to by the press as hit-and-run.’
Mr Iles handed in ‘so many references I could almost send them to the Bodleian for binding,’ including one from Gill’s mother describing the effect it would have on her husband, who had heart surgery about two years ago, if Gill lost his liberty.
But jailing Gill, Recorder Patrick Upward QC told him: “As your counsel has recognised, this matter clearly takes the case beyond the custody threshold, and a sentence of imprisonment is inevitable.
“If you had been convicted of the original charge, you would face going to prison for many years.
“I accept you were convicted of being concerned, albeit over a period of 11 months, in the supply of class A drugs. But the sentence must be one of immediate imprisonment.”