A MAN caught “red handed” with cannabis in his house along with ‘deal lists’ who initially told police the names were for a fantasy football league, has had an eight months jail sentence overturned on appeal.
Lee Thompson (41), with an address listed as Brookfield Gardens, Ahoghill, had recently been given an eight months jail term when his case was before Ballymena Magistrates Court.
However, he appealed the sentence and at Antrim County Court this week the jail sentence, according to the Courts Service, was replaced with a Combination Order involving Community Service and the defendant was also given a three months suspended prison term which will be in operation for a year.
At the original Magistrates Court hearing a prosecutor said that on January 17 this year police searched the defendant’s home and he tried to conceal something at a sofa.
The lawyer said a total of 52 grammes of cannabis along with 26 lyrica tablets. £500 of cash was in jars in a freezer.
There was a phone containing messages about drug dealing; cash found inside a light; “suspected deal lists” with small amount of money inside; and deal bags. The largest amount of cannabis was in a cardboard box in a kitchen unit.
Depending on the accepted street value the prosecutor said there was anything between £500 and £1,000 worth of drugs found.
The prosecutor said Thompson initially told police the drugs were for his own use and had claimed the “deal lists” were connected with “fantasy football leagues he organises”.
However, the prosecution lawyer, said the defendant had struggled to explain how he kept track of the scores and teams.
The prosecutor said the defendant could not recall a “suspected price list” but stated it was likely also to do with the fantasy football league.
The defendant told police the freezer money was a budgeting loan he received for redecorating and part of the money was for the winner of the fantasy football league.
Defence barrister Neil Moore had told the original Magistrates Court hearing Thompson had pleaded guilty to charges of being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession of cannabis and lyrica.
He said the defendant had battled an addiction to heroin for 20 years which was regulated by methadone but it was accepted he was misusing cannabis and the defendant had told Probation he was selling it “amongst friends”.
Mr Moore added: “The nonsense that he told police about the fantasy football league was perhaps an indication of how much he realised that he had been ‘caught red-handed’.”
The barrister said a reference from a churchman was sent to the court and the support the defendant received from the minister was “significant”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told the original Magistrates Court hearing that Thompson had been involved in “significant and persistent” supply of drugs and handed down an eight months prison term and bail had been fixed for appeal at that court.