Cowering Class A drug dealers foiled after hiding in Harrogate shop

York Crown Court
York Crown Court
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Police responding to a 999 call from two men being threatened in the street found more than they bargained for when they arrived at the scene.

Officers were told by the frantic callers that they were being threatened by other men outside a convenience store in Harrogate.

When officers arrived, the two men were cowering in the shop aisles.

But CCTV evidence showed that the supposed victims were in fact heroin and cocaine pushers who had travelled from Bradford to find themselves staring violence in the face outside a general store - and then being arrested for drug-dealing.

York Crown Court heard that police found the two dealers - 20-year-old Sabeel Mahmood and a teenager who cannot be named for legal reasons - hiding in the aisles after seeking refuge in Mayfield Grove General Store.

Prosecutor Heather Gilmore said the two apparent victims were taken to Harrogate Police Station to give statements but CCTV at the shop had unearthed some interesting new evidence - namely several suspicious-looking plastic bags which Mahmood had placed behind food shelves in a futile attempt to hide the illicit goods.

Police searched the shop shelves and found 11 wraps of heroin and cocaine on which they discovered Mahmood’s fingerprints. Twenty-seven smaller wraps were found on the teenager at the police station.

Both suspects admitted two counts each of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply. They appeared for sentence at York Crown Court on Monday in front of Recorder Alistair Macdonald QC.

Ms Gilmore said a third person had been involved in the dealing operation in Harrogate on the afternoon of March 10.

The court heard that Mahmood had previous convictions for handling stolen goods and failing to surrender to custody.

Nicholas Leadbeater, Mahmood’s solicitor advocate, said his client accepted that he had “used” the teenager to pass on drugs in what was a joint enterprise.

He said Mahmood, of Pollard Lane, Bradford, had travelled to Harrogate on the bus to sell drugs on the street, but was stymied by an unforeseen threat of violence.

“The irony is that they, or their colleague, requested the assistance of the police (when they were threatened),” added Mr Leadbeater.

Recorder Mr Macdonald gave Mahmood an 18-month suspended jail sentence with a 30-day rehabilitation course and 80 hours’ unpaid work. Mahmood was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

He said a custodial sentence was not appropriate in the youth’s case because he had no previous convictions and the drug offences were deemed to be a “lapse”.

The teenager was given a 12-month youth rehabilitation order with supervision and a three-month nightly curfew. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours’ unpaid work and pay a £15 court surcharge.