Article by Richard Duggan: Two drug dealers who were arrested when armed police and sniffer dogs raided an address in Billericay have been jailed for more than 12 years.
Officers found more than a kilogram of cocaine and £35,000 in cash when they searched a house belonging to the mum of Callum Zimbler, 26, in Valley Road on October 25 last year.
Co-defendant Bradley Small, 28, was arrested on the same evening, after police had previously discovered his storage unit, containing more drugs and two handguns.
The sentencing took place at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday morning (January 18), with both men appearing before Judge Ian Graham separately via a video link from Chelmsford prison.
Zimbler, a bricklayer who lived with his mum in Valley Road, appeared first and was sentenced to a total of four-and-a-half years behind bars for possession with intent to supply class A drugs and possession of criminal property.
Recounting the events on the evening of October 25, prosecuting counsel Lucy Ginsberg said: "Police saw Bradley Small enter the address carrying a small bag. Fifteen minutes later, he left the address and didn't have the bag.
Police suspected drug-related activity was taking place. They entered the property at 6.55pm and a search was carried out with police dogs.
In the front bedroom of the property, police found two bags hidden in a wicker laundry basket, one containing a kilogram of cocaine, the other £35,000 in cash, both of which were seized.
Further examination of the drugs revealed them to have a purity of between 75 and 78 per cent. The court heard that Zimbler had previously been convicted for money laundering in 2010 and criminal damage in 2013.
In mitigation, defence counsel James Tyler told the court his client suffered a difficult childhood and asked Judge Graham to consider the impact on his daughter.
Mr Tyler said:
He got into something and was out of his depth. He's never been involved in anything this serious. He is a man who has been in trouble and made mistakes but has the qualities of a person who can be a useful member of society.
Passing sentence, Judge Graham said:
Dealing drugs at this level must always attract a substantial prison sentence. What can be said in your favour is that you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in the crown court. You have no previous convictions for drugs and you've been out of trouble for three years. You are full of remorse about what happened and regret getting involved in this.
Small, unemployed and of Broomhills Chase in Little Burstead, admitted possession with intent to supply a class A drug, two counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm without a certificate and possession of ammunition without a certificate.
Miss Ginsberg outlined how on September 20 of last year, police attended a garage in Elsenham, near Stansted Airport.
The unit was rented by Small, who was known to his landlord as 'Squeak'.
There, they found a safe containing 1kg of cocaine with 75 per cent purity, as well as two handguns, a silencer and 200 9mm bullets.
The court heard Small had been previously convicted for five years for wounding with intent after a stabbing at a cafe in north Essex, a further two-and-a-half years for robbery, and also had a conviction for theft.
In mitigation, Small's defence counsel Michael Edmonds spoke of how his client had attempted to rebuild his life at the end of 2015 when he was last released from custody.
Mr Edmonds told the court: "He made a fatal error of judgment. Having been released from his employment, he found himself in need of work.
He realises that he faces a substantial sentence. His main aim now is to find out his fate from you today and to support his children. Together, with his partner, he has two children, aged four and two, who are going to be separated from him for a significant period.
He also asked the judge for a sentence that would allow Small the chance for rehabilitation.
Judge Graham said:
You had, a few years ago, a very bad record, committing serious offences. You have been out of trouble since 2009. I know that you have no previous convictions for drugs and you have been out of serious trouble for seven years. You had put a very bad record behind you and you have young children who will suffer as a result.
Small was sentenced to a total of eight years in jail, five years for the possession of firearms offences, two years for possession with intent to supply drugs and 12 months for the possession of ammunition, to run consecutively, with a six-month sentence for the silencer, to run alongside.
An order was made for the destruction of the drugs and a statutory charge ordered.
Read original article by Richard Duggan, Essex Live