A model and her boyfriend have evaded jail after making £18,000 selling cocaine, all because it took police officers so long to charge them.
28-year-old Angharad Williams and 20-year-old Robert Sandhu were caught out with a stash of cocaine, over £700 in cash and numerous incriminating texts, after their vehicle was intercepted in Carmarthenshire.
However, it took Dyfed-Powys Police two years to write to the couple to inform them they were going to be prosecuted. The judge who sentenced them has since described the lengthy delay as ‘staggering’.
As reported by Wales Online, Swansea Crown Court heard Sandhu and Williams were stopped on the the M4 near Hendy on May 10, 2017 having apparently replenished their supply of the Class A drug in Reading.
Following a search of the vehicle, officers uncovered 40g of cocaine with an approximate 80 per cent purity. They also found £730 cash and mobile phones full of text messages which showed they had earned around £18,000 through their drug dealing activities.
After the couple were released under investigation, it took 25 months for them to receive letters instructing them to appear before court to face their charges.
During these intervening 25 months, Sandhu had been given a conviction for dangerous driving, for which he had been successfully completing a suspended sentence.
Sandhu and Williams had previously pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply when they entered the dock for sentencing. The pair had reportedly turned to dealing cocaine to finance their extravagant tastes for fashion, cars and luxury holidays.
Speaking before the court, Judge Geraint Walters criticised what he regarded to be a ‘systematic failure to investigate a serious offence’:
Had you come before me in a timely manner, you would both be going to prison but I cannot ignore the inordinate delay.
I am going to be frank with you. It grinds me not to send Class A drug dealers straight to prison. I feel uncomfortable in having to even think about it.
My heart tells me I should send you to prison but my head tells me that would be unjust and as judges were are ruled by our head.
As reported by Wales Online, deputy chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police Claire Parmenter has said officers faced a range of ‘investigative difficulties’ in the case:
Cases that appear to be straightforward often require complex work to prepare evidence which is strong enough to bring charges against offenders and secure their prosecution.
In this particular case investigators faced a number of investigative difficulties which eventually resulted in a delay in issuing the summons to court.
This included the defendants’ refusal to allow police access to their electronic devices, complex forensic and financial analysis work, and the need for the case to be fully reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Constable Parmenter continued:
We will continue to work tirelessly to take action against people who commit crime in Dyfed-Powys and, where unwarranted delays are identified, we will continue to do all we can to expedite investigations and protect communities.
Sandhu, named as the ‘main driver’ behind the dealing, was sentenced to a two year jail sentence suspended for two years. He was also ordered to undertake 300 hours worth of unpaid work and was handed a curfew.
Williams was given a one year jail sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to complete 150 hours worth of unpaid work.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.