A TALENTED teenage footballer was on the verge of being signed by a Premier League club before being caught red-handed carrying out a £140,000 cocaine deal.
Anton Brown, 19, and three other men were jailed for a total of more than 24 years over their involvement in the sale of kilogramme block of the class A drug.
Leeds Crown Court heard Brown was being sought by Manchester City and Liverpool shortly before the incident on September 16 last year.
Brown and Nathaniel Wisdom had been stopped in a Vauxhall Astra at the junction of Harehills Lane and Roundhay Road,
Moments earlier, the pair had taken delivery of the cocaine from Joshua Pyke. The deal had been arranged by Kane Dacosta.
Timothy Capstick, prosecuting, said Brown threw a Morrison’s plastic bag containing the drug from the Astra. Pyke’s fingerprints were later found on the bag.
Wisdom was searched and found in possession of keys to a house in Armley. The property was found to contain two tubs of bicarbonate of soda - a substance often used as a mixing agent for class A drugs.
Other items linked to drug supply were also found.
Phones seized as part of the police investigation revealed all four men had been in close contact shortly before the drug deal took place,
Wisdom, 26, of Stainbeck Road, Chapel Allerton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Brown, also of Stainbeck Road, Chapel Allerton, Dacosta, 24, of The Lane, East End Park, and Pyke, 28, of Amberton Gardens, Gipton, were found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine after a trial.
Dacosta was also found guilty of possession of criminal property over a large sum of cash found at his home.
Michael Collins, for Brown, said the teenager became involved in the offence after his Premiership hopes were dashed through injury.
The barrister said: “This is a highly talented young footballer who was scouted by two professional clubs in the English Premiership - Manchester City and Liverpool.
“They came looking for him and he was progressing well until he was hit by a car. He suffered injuries that meant he was unable to train and he was dropped by both clubs.”
Mr Collins said Brown still had ambitions to become a semi professional player.
Referring to the offence he said: “It seems quite clear from the evidence that this is something that he was drafted in to do at very short notice.”
Brown, who has no previous convictions, was sent to a young offenders institution for three and a half years.
The court heard the three other defendants had previous convictions for drug offences.
Dacosta was jailed for eight and a half years, Wisdom was jailed for five years, eight months, and Pyke was jailed for seven years.
Detective Inspector Mark Long, of the Protective Services (Crime) team at West Yorkshire Police, said: “These sentences send out a strong message that this sort of criminal activity will not be tolerated in West Yorkshire.
“These four individuals were involved in a serious criminal enterprise and I am delighted that they are no longer able to ply their evil trade.”