Police sniffed out drug dealer's stash
A DRUG dealer who parked so close to a police car that the officer inside sniffed out his stash of skunk, has been jailed.
Benjamin Heale was caught with £3,000 worth of home-grown drugs in a bag when he recruiting a friend to drive him from one side of Tiverton to the other.
Quick-witted police constable Saren Isaac was parked two cars away from Heale as he pulled up at a Tesco store and got out to get a soft drink, leaving his passenger window open and the strong-smelling drugs on the seat.
While he was inside, she went to investigate and arrested him as he came out of the shop and headed back to the car.
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He tried to blame everything on his friend John Soundy, who was giving him the lift, but his fingerprints were found inside the two ziplock bags which contained almost half a kilo of skunk.
Heale, 27, of Ailsa Brook Meadow, Tiverton, denied possession with intent to supply but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court. Soundy, 27, of Bartow's Causeway, Tiverton, admitted a similar charge.
Heale was jailed for 12 months by Recorder Mr Paul Grumbar. Soundy was jailed for four months, suspended for 18 month.
The judge said Heale's case was aggravated by previous convictions for cannabis dealing and told him: "The difficulty with you is that you don't seem to have learned your lesson. It may have been different if you had admitted your role rather than trying to blame Mr Soundy.
"This was a substantial amount of cannabis worth a significant amount of money and you clearly had a significant role."
He told Soundy he was not sending him straight to jail because his role was lesser, he had admitted the offence and given evidence at Heale's trial and had grown up a great deal in the two years since the offence.
During a two-day case, PC Isaac told the jury how she recognised the smell of the drugs and arrested first Soundy, then Heale. She said: "The smell of the cannabis was intense."
She added that Soundy tried to take all the blame.
But he later changed his story and explained he had only been giving his friend Heale a lift because Heale did not want to carry the cannabis through the streets.
Soundy told the jury he lied to police on the day of the search because he owed Heale money and was trying to do him a favour.
Heale told the jury he texted his friend to ask for a lift and noticed the smell of the drugs as soon as he got into the van. He said he looked in the bag and saw the cannabis but it was not his and he had nothing to do with it.
James Taghdissian, defending, said that Soundy's life had moved on since 2011.
He now had a young child, a steady relationship and a well-paid job and had turned his back on cannabis.
Malcolm Clarke, for Heale, said he has also turned over a new leaf, is working for an engineering firm, and helps his girlfriend look after her three young children.