"I'm not made for jail": Pedaling Leeds drug pusher begged judge for mercy

A mountain bike-riding crack dealer who was caught twice in four months begged a judge not to extend his jail sentence.

By Nick Frame
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:30 pm

Liam Johnson, who is already behind bars, read out a letter to the court from prison claiming he had learned his lesson and that he was “not made for this place”.

But Judge Anesh Pema handed him a new 18-month term at Leeds Crown Court.

Opening the hearing, prosecutor Hollie Alcock said officers had spotted Johnson completing a deal on Rigton Lawn in Burmantofts in the early hours of May 5 last year, before he rode off on his bicycle.

Liam Johnson made an impassioned plea to the judge to spare him a longer sentence.

Officers caught up with him and searched him, finding a tube filled with drugs and £289 cash.

There were 52 wraps of crack cocaine with a street value of £780, and 12 wraps of heroin worth £120.

A tick list for completed deals were also found.

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The 22-year-old, of Cowper Terrace, Harehills, said he was simply picking up and dropping off drugs to help clear a debt he had amassed through his own cannabis use.

He said he received no money, but for every drop-off completed, part of the debt would be wiped.

The court was told he had 10 convictions for 25 offences, including dealing crack and heroin from September, which was already been dealt with at Leeds Crown Court in May this year and for which he was jailed.

Mitigating, Martin Morrow said Johnson had admitted his guilt at the first opportunity, and it was all down to the debts he had accrued.

But reading out a letter he had penned, Johnson, speaking over the video link from HMP Wealstun in Wetherby, said: “I know I have messed up.

"I’m really sorry. I’m really not made for a place like this.

"This jail time has already made me change, it really has.

"I just want this sentence done and get back to the straight and narrow. I’m begging for one more chance.”

He told the judge he even had a job as a tiler waiting for him, should his jail sentence not be extended.

But Judge Pema told him it would require a new sentence, and added: “I can understand it’s your first time in custody and I’m heartened to hear it will take a positive step after your incarceration.”