Cocaine found in man’s jacket after street fight

WHEN John McErlean got involved in a town centre fight he gave no thought to the wraps of cocaine in his jacket. Police arrived at Hitchin Market Place in the early hours of Thursday, February 16, and saw he had a gash to his forehead, Luton Crown Court w

WHEN John McErlean got involved in a town centre fight he gave no thought to the wraps of cocaine in his jacket.

Police arrived at Hitchin Market Place in the early hours of Thursday, February 16, and saw he had a gash to his forehead, Luton Crown Court was told.

He was drunk and being difficult, but police were advised to take him to hospital.

While he was being treated there his jacket was searched and the Class A drug powder weighing 11 grams was found, said prosecutor Laura Blackband.

Police also found £310 in cash on him, the court heard last week.

When he was questioned the next day, he at first said the jacket was not his and he did not know how he had come by it, but later admitted it was his.

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McErlean, 20, of Shefford Road, Clifton, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply. The court was told it was worth between £600 and £1,200 in street deals.

Geoffrey Birch, defending, said the supply would only have amounted to selling to friends, if they were short.

"He had made a bulk purchase and it was more of a case of I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine. It was not commercial dealing," he added.

Mr Birch said McErlean had dabbled with cocaine, but his use increased after Christmas following a very distressing family situation.

"He used it to dull his feelings and emotions.

"He comes from a good family and has never himself been in trouble with police. His arrest has been a great shock. He has been to a drug and alcohol agency and is now free of his habit and has broken free from the sub culture in which he moved at the time.

Judge Gareth Davies, who was urged not to jail McErlean, said: "I have every sympathy with you for the personal issues that affected you, but they are a part of life.

"By supplying drugs you contribute to the misery and degradation of drug use. I see people in that dock day after day who have got themselves into trouble through their use of drugs.

"You should consider yourself fortunate that the sentence is one of only 18 months in a young offenders' institute.