Leeds dealer with £400-a-week cocaine habit keeps his freedom due to court backlog

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A drug dealer with a £400-a-week cocaine habit who managed to get his life back on track has been spared jail due to court delays.

James Moody has since got himself clean, stayed out of trouble and landed a job in construction after he was caught by police in 2020.

Instead of locking the 36-year-old up, the judge at Leeds Crown Court, Recorder Thomas Moran gave him a suspended sentence. He said: "These are very serious offences, but they are very old. It's unclear why there has been a delay, but it was not your fault.

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"Had you been sentenced at the time you would have expected a prison sentence. You have benefited from that. You have turned your life around in the meantime and you are living a useful life."

Prosecutor David Ward said that police had pulled over Moody's car on Easterly Road in Leeds on the afternoon of November 19, 2020, because he was not wearing a seat belt. They noticed empty alcohol cans in the car so breathalysed him, but it came back negative. However, they remained suspicious and he confessed he had drugs in his pocket.

He was arrested and taken to the police station, where he was strip searched and found to have nearly 100 wraps of crack cocaine and heroin, worth around £1,000 in total, in his boxer shorts. Moody, of The Close, Alwoodley, admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply class A drugs. He has four previous convictions for seven offences, although none for drugs.

Moody was selling drugs to fund his crippling cocaine habit, but was spared custody due to the delay in bringing the case to court. (pic by PA / National World)Moody was selling drugs to fund his crippling cocaine habit, but was spared custody due to the delay in bringing the case to court. (pic by PA / National World)
Moody was selling drugs to fund his crippling cocaine habit, but was spared custody due to the delay in bringing the case to court. (pic by PA / National World) | PA / National World

A probation report found that he had started taking cocaine during the pandemic which spiralled out of control, leading to a huge £400-a-week habit. Unable to earn enough, he got into debt and was offered the chance to sell drugs to pay it back.

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No mitigation was offered by his barrister after Recorder Moran said he would not lock him up. He instead gave him a 24-month sentence, suspended for 24 months, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

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