A DRUG dealer busted when a man taking his morning walk found his stash and handed it in to police has had his jail term slashed on appeal.
Philip Flanagan, 29, of Plemston Court, Ellesmere Port, was arrested on March 18, 2008 after police returned to the tree on the outskirts of town where the walker had discovered the plastic container containing crack cocaine worth £3,260.
There they found Flanagan carrying out a fingertip search of the area.
Flanagan told cops that he was looking for a toy that his son had thrown out of his car window but was disbelieved, and an incriminating fingerprint, interrogation of his mobile phone and cash found at his home were used by the police to link him to the drugs.
He eventually pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and being concerned in the supply of cocaine, MDMA, and cannabis at Chester Crown Court in September 2008.
On October 21, 2008 he was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Last week, that term was cut to three-and-a-half years by Lord Justice Aikens, Mrs Justice Slade and Judge James Wadsworth QC, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court.
The court heard that Flanagan pleaded guilty on the basis that he had been pressured into becoming a dealer by his own drug suppliers in order to pay off an outstanding £6,000 debt he owed them.
He had been saving up the cash from his dealing in a safe in his home in order to pay this debt and had amassed almost £2,000 towards it by the time of his arrest.
In those circumstances the judges allowed his appeal against sentence reducing it by a year.
Mrs Justice Slade, giving the court's judgement, said: “In the circumstances, which are unusual, we think that the correct sentence is one of three years six months, and to that extent this appeal is allowed.”