Brush up on your grammar and find the right judge, and you could potentially get off lightly on a first time drug dealing charge.
Case in point: a pair of student drug dealers have been spared prison by a judge who claimed to be impressed by their spelling and grammar in texts promoting deals. Judge David Hale said that the "grammar and punctuation" was of a much higher standard than normally seen from dealers in the area, and demonstrated a higher level of education.
Luke Rance, 19, and Brandon Kerrison, 21, were arrested outside a Swansea library in December of 2017 after they were caught with drugs. Rance was in possession of seven bags of cannabis and a small quantity of cocaine, while Kerrison had two bags of weed on him at the time. Police later searched the houses of both men and found over £1,200 worth of cannabis in Rance's room.
Swansea Crown Court heard messages from Kerrison's phone advertising drug deals, including a text which was sent to 18 contacts on the day of his arrest: "Mad flavours from 10 tonight – let me know for more details."
The court also heard how Kerrison was studying a course in construction in Swansea. Rance, who has appeared in stage productions of Les Miserables and Grease, is due to start a degree in performing arts this September at Gower College, Swansea.
Judge Hale said he did not want to "fetter the prospects" of either men by sending them to jail. Why offenders with good prospects are treated more leniently than offenders with fewer prospects is a question for another day – but, in this case, Kerrison and Rance were handed community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work. Sentencing guidelines suggest that the pair could have faced imprisonment for up to 26 weeks.
Both admitted possession with intent to supply cannabis, with Rance also pleading guilty to possession of cocaine.
The judge told them: "I hope a court never sees either of you again."