drugs pair win appeal

editorial image

Two men – including one from Retford – found with more than £20,000 of flowering cannabis after a police surveillance operation, have had their sentences cut by a third by top judges in London.

Graham John King, 49, of Main Street, Haughton, and Christos Christopher Nicolas, 45, of Occupation Lane, Roydon, Essex, were both jailed for four years at Nottingham Crown Court last September.

Christos Nicolas

Christos Nicolas

They were convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis.

But now, after hearing from the men’s lawyers, three senior judges sitting at the Court of Appeal have cut both their sentences to three years.

Lord Justice Laws said King, Nicolas and another man were under police surveillance when they came together at King’s “large, secluded home” in the Notts countryside in April 2009.

Believing the three were planning something, the police moved in and, despite finding nothing in the house, uncovered six kilos of flowering female cannabis plant in a van parked outside.

The judge said that amount of cannabis would have a street value of around £21,000.

The police had telephone evidence linking King and Nicolas, but both claimed they were friends who worked together importing tyres. They said they had no idea why the drugs were in the van parked outside. King had five previous convictions and Nicolas had four, and although neither had ever been charged with a drugs crime before, the jury found them guilty.

Lawyers for the pair told judges the prison sentences were too long for the amount of drugs uncovered, and the judge over-estimated their previous criminality.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Lindblom, agreed, and cut the prison terms by a quarter to three years.

He said: “Here we have six kilos of cannabis. It is true, however, that the charge is for conspiracy to supply and not importation or simple supply, and that will tend to attract longer sentences.”

“Nevertheless, four years is, in our judgement, too high and three years would be more appropriate.”