Judges cut cocaine user's sentence

By Phil Turner | 19/01/2011

Judges cut cocaine user's sentence

A DRUGS criminal who cowered in his prison cell while inmates rioted around him has had his sentence cut by top judges at the Court of Appeal.

Matthew Richard Brock (23), of Rotherham, had been locked up after he was caught with the drugs he planned to take with friends during a cocaine-fuelled trip to Doncaster Races last year.

He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment at Sheffield Crown Court in September after admitting possession of the drug with intent to supply.

But Brock, of Progress Drive, Bramley, had his sentence slashed to 12 months by appeal judges, Lord Justice Pill, Mr Justice Owen and Judge Andrew Patience QC.

Mr Justice Owen said it appeared that the Crown Court judge had sentenced him on the basis of facts which he had not admitted, and which the prosecution had not alleged.

After his arrest, Brock admitted buying cocaine, which he intended to use with friends when they visited Doncaster Races the following week, in March last year.

He said he never planned to sell the drugs commercially or to make any profit from the enterprise, since all of his friends would have paid for their own share.

But when the Crown Court judge sentenced him, he referred to the wider problem of drugs falling into the hands of other young people, the Court of Appeal was told.

That comment and Brock's mitigation, including his good character and the terrible effect of his arrest on him and his family, justified a cut in the sentence, lawyers said.

While serving time in Doncaster’s Moorlands Prison, the court was told, Brock had felt compelled to lock himself terrified in his cell as other inmates rioted outside the door.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Owen said: “In our judgment, there is force in the argument that the learned judge passed a sentence on a basis that was not entirely consistent with the basis of plea.

“It was to the effect that the cocaine purchased by the appellant was to be shared between him and his group of friends and that this was not a commercial exercise.

“This was possession of a small quantity of cocaine, without commercial motive.

“Taking full account of the personal mitigation, we consider that the appropriate sentence, giving full credit for the plea, was one of 12 months’ imprisonment.”


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