Tears of joy as drug dealer turned 'upright man' escapes 7-year sentence

Norwich Crown Court

Norwich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

There was shock and jubilation in court yesterday when an ex-drug addict expecting a seven year prison sentence walked free after impressing the judge as “someone who seeks to live the life of an upright man”.

Troy Daniels looked stunned, and his family burst into tears and laughter, when Mr Recorder Hardy ruled that the mandatory term he faced would be “unfair, oppressive and disproportionate” and instead handed down a suspended sentence.

Daniels, 49, of Arundel Road, Great Yarmouth, was arrested on March 30 2020 at the wheel of a car destined for a known drug dealer’s house.

Police found him in possession of a phone linked to the Chase Two drug gang, which was “ringing constantly” during his arrest, Jude Durr for the Crown told Norwich Crown court.

Damien Laverick, who ran the gang, was sentenced to eight years yesterday. He and 12 co-conspirators sold £140,000-worth of heroin and crack in Great Yarmouth between January and April 2020.

Mr Daniels was the only conspirator to plead not guilty. Following a conviction for supplying class A drugs nearly 20 years ago, alongside six other historical convictions for a further 21 offences, he faced a mandatory minimum term of seven years if convicted again. 

He was found guilty earlier this month. Friends, members of his family, and the drugs rehabilitation organisation Change Grow Live wrote good character references in advance of his sentencing.

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Since his release from prison he has met and married his wife and the couple have a son. 

Mitigating,  Ian James said: “He knows he’s brought this on himself, he knows Your Honour has no choice, and he knows other people will suffer as a result of it, and that will be an additional punishment for him.”

Sentencing, Mr Recorder Hardy said: “For 15 years or more you have kept yourself out of trouble", pointing to the influence of Mr Daniels’ wife and his desire to live a “respectable life as a father”.

He went on: "It is unrealistic to expect someone in your circumstances forever to break the habit, there will inevitably be slip-ups, but for the most part you have struggled and struggled successfully to live a good life."

He pointed to Daniels' "relatively minimal" involvement in Chase Two.

Norfolk Police have cracked down on County Lines drug dealing

Norfolk Police have cracked down on County Lines drug dealing - Credit: Ian Burt

Using discretion vested to judges who believe a mandatory minimum would be unjust, he said: “Bearing in mind all I know about your role as a family man, as a man who - and one shouldn’t overlook it - has a clean driving licence, insures his vehicle, works when he can in seasonal work, has nothing on his record about being antisocial or a bad neighbour - someone who seeks to live the life of an upright man - it would be not only unjust but unfair, oppressive and disproportionate to impose a mandatory minimum upon you.”

He went on: “I hope this message will go out loud and clear to others in your circumstances, that those who do as you have done and try to live a good and respectable life, and are treasured by their family and friends, when they fall on the wrong side of the law, will or can be treated on the basis that they deserve not punishment but encouragement and commendation.”

He finished: “Taking into account all that I have heard about you I am going to suspend the sentence of imprisonment that I must impose.

"I am giving you a chance."

Over the sound of his wife’s stunned tears and laughter, Mr Daniels told the court: “Thank you ever so much, and I will make the most of that chance.

"You won’t see me again."

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