Photographer caught with £1,300 of cocaine at Leeds home was to 'share it with pals'

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A photographer who was found to have more than £1,300 worth of cocaine in his bedroom told a court it was bought in bulk to share it among him and his friends.

Ali Aljabiry was arrested on suspicion of drug dealing when police came to his home address on May 1, 2022, for an unrelated matter, but then carried out the search and found 22.3 grammes of the class A drug, with a high-purity level of 78 per cent.

They also found £1,405 in cash, which he maintains was from a loan for renting a property. Officers also seized a phone but there was no evidence of dealing found on it, such as order messages or advertising drugs for sale. But it was noted that the phone had been reset, Leeds Crown Court heard.

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Aljabiry was found with more than 22 grammes of cocaine, but told the court it was was him and his pals. (pic by National World)Aljabiry was found with more than 22 grammes of cocaine, but told the court it was was him and his pals. (pic by National World)
Aljabiry was found with more than 22 grammes of cocaine, but told the court it was was him and his pals. (pic by National World) | National World

During his police interview he told officers about the loan, but gave no comments about the drugs. The 40-year-old, of Melrose Grove, Horsforth, later admitted possession of a class A drug with intent to supply. He has 12 previous convictions for 20 offences, including four drug offences and a conviction for dealing in class As dating back to 2009.

A probation report into his latest offending found that he had been struggling since the breakdown of a relationship and his drinking and drug-taking had “become out of hand”. Aljabiry, who works as an events photographer, had since become involved Forward Leeds, the drug-counselling service.

Mitigating, Catherine Silverton confirmed he had “sought help” for his problems. The court was told that he had bought the drugs to be shared among him and his friends and would take the drugs together.

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Judge Penelope Belcher said the origins of the money - that it was a loan - was accepted by the Crown. She acknowledged there had been a long gap between his convictions for dealing in class A drugs but warned him that a third offence would attract a mandatory seven-year sentence. She said: “Be in no doubt how serious this is.”

But she accepted there had been no further offending since his last arrest and had sought help from Forward Leeds. She handed him 22 months’ jail, suspended for two years. She also gave him a six-month alcohol-treatment requirement and 20 rehabilitation days to complete.