A DAD-of-three found with nearly half a kilo of cannabis in his home has walked free from court.
Mark Hatten told the court, despite his history in drug dealing, he was not selling it but merely looking after it for someone else.
The 33-year-old market stallholder admitted possession of the drug, which had a street value of £5,050, with intent to supply on the basis he was just keeping hold of it in exchange for some of it to smoke.
The court heard Hatten had shown receipts and tax returns to account for £6,000 cash police found in his Tuffley home.
He was given a five-and-a-half-year sentence in 2007 for possession with intent to supply amphetamines, cannabis and cocaine cannabis, as well as three counts of possessing criminal property.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said: “This is the case where he came to the courts armed with all his books and dealings from his car boot sales and market stall business.”
Defending, Christopher Smyth told the court when he was released he had wanted to lead a law abiding life but had been pressurised to look after the cannabis.
But following an assault in 2010 he had started to smoke the drug himself.
He said: “He had been a complete idiot and gone back to his old ways of dealing.
“What was impressive was the considerable documentation that recalled each transaction of his market stall and he was paying tax and National Insurance.”
Judge Jamie Tabor QC said he “didn’t think Mr Osborne (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would be getting too excited” given Hatten’s income of around £250 and £400 a week.
He gave him a 12-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered he carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, pay £250 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.
He told Hatten his “fulsome set of accounts” and tax receipts indicated he was earning money legitimately.
He said: “That was either one of the best fronts I have ever come across from a drug dealer or it was genuine.
“I don’t know and if I don’t know it is only fair to assume you were telling the truth.
“You have been sentenced to a long sentence of imprisonment as a drug dealer.
“You are a drug dealer and so when someone comes along and asks you to stash drugs, you know what is to come and that is a prison sentence.
“I hope you will not be tempted again to ever take or deal drugs.”