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Student with “bright future” escapes jail after being forced to sell drugs

PUBLISHED: 08:31 09 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:17 09 March 2018

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A teenage business studies student who was “forced” to come to Great Yarmouth and sell drugs to pay off a fictional debt has escaped jail.

Glonar Thomas was found at a house in the town on January 9 when police attended searching for a wanted woman. While searching the house they found 74 wraps of cocaine and a small amount of heroin in a Skittles tub.

Thomas admitted possession with intent to supply a Class A drug at Norwich Crown Court, which heard how he had been “coerced” into a strange place against his will by a county lines group - London-based drug pushers who use young people to get their product into towns and cities outside of London.

Prosecutor Martin Ivory told the court £230 in cash and a mobile phone were found when Thomas was arrested.

“That is the fundamental position that brings this 18 year old before the court,” he said. “You can foresee a situation where he may be at the end of a county lines situation.”

Emma Scott, in mitigation, said Thomas had a “bright future” and had been coerced into paying off a fictional debt after some drug money went missing at a party he went to in Leicester.

“The blame fell on Mr Thomas,” she said. “He said he had not stolen the money, which fell on deaf ears. They came looking for him and required him to come to Norfolk, stay in a property he has no association with, and work off a debt he did not owe.

“He was required to keep coming back for days to work off the debt and was at the mercy of this person.

“He wasn’t getting paid for this. He was forced to be there by pressure, coercion and intimidation. This is not the start of criminality that needs to be punished. He was studying for BTEC in business when he was arrested and suspended. He is someone who does have a bright future.”

Recorder Simon Taylor QC said: “I accept you were trapped into this by circumstances. Your involvement was through naivety and exploitation to some degree. You are clearly an intelligent young man.

“I go forward in the hope this is a blip for you and I am not being duped.”

Thomas, of Berger Road, London, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, with an electronically-tagged curfew for six months between 7pm and 7am.

The money seized will be forfeited and the drugs destroyed.

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