SOFT JUSTICE: Dealer found with drugs and knife spared jail to start university
A DRUG dealer caught with cannabis, cocaine, a large hunting knife and criminal cash has been spared jail so he can go to university despite the supposed crackdown on drugs and bladed weapons. Jordan Onyemaenu, 20, from Ickenham, north-west London, received a suspended prison term so he could start a degree course due to start the same day as his sentencing at Harrow Crown Court this week. Police say the illegal drugs trade, and the likelihood of dealers arming themselves with weapons, is one of the main causes of the bloody violence being seen up and down the UK, particularly in London. They have called for judges to impose minimum jail terms to anyone caught carrying a blade, with Sentencing Council guidelines suggesting it should lead to at least three months in prison, even for a first offence.
HAUL: Onyemaenu was found with drugs and a knife (stock image West Midlands Police)
Onyemaenu was found by police with unexplained cash in a VW Golf parked in Thornhill Road, Ickenhan, at around 5pm on April 30 2018. He was next to an Audi A3 that contained a "substantial quantity of individually packaged self seal bags of cannabis, loose cannabis, individually packaged white powder cocaine, loose white powder cocaine and a large 28cm hunting style knife." Onyemaenu was found to be the registered keeper of the Audi and an insured party on the VW. He pleaded guilty to possessing 332g of cannabis with intent to supply, possession of a knife and possession of £535 of criminal proceeds. The student was found not guilty at trial of possession of cocaine with intent to supply, but admitted possession of the class A drug. Yet, Judge Justin Cole chose to give Onyemaenu, who also has a previous conviction for dangerous driving, "one last chance" so he could start the course at Middlesex University in north London. He was sentenced to 15 months in custody, but it was suspended for two years. He must also carry out 140 hours of unpaid work, will be under an electronically tagged curfew from 10pm to 6am for two months and the drugs and knife will be destroyed with the cash seized. Prosecuting, Nicola Merrick, said Onyemaenu had played a "significant role" in the supply of cannabis and possession of the knife was an aggravating factor. Defending, Andrew Hallworth, pushed for him to be spared jail to embark on his studies and seek treatment for a cocaine habit. He said: "He is a changed man who is preparing to embark on a university degree. "Since these offences he has completed a diploma in business studies at Stanmore College. "He has shown some determination and addressed his offending behaviour he is a suitable candidate for a suspended sentence." Judge Cole said he no longer appeared to have a drug problem, as he was just using cocaine socially at weekends. He said: "You are 20 years old still. You were a street level dealer and a not unsophisticated one from the evidence I heard. "You could face an immediate custodial sentence but from the character references I have seen you have a powerful body of support, but you should expect this to be your last chance and if you are brought here again you will be looking at custody."
PRISON: Lawyer Nick Freeman wants to see six months minimum sentences (Nick Freeman)
A Sentencing Council spokeswoman said: "The aim of the Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons guidelines is to ensure that, within the statutory framework, sentence levels reflect the serious social problem of offenders carrying knives.Play Video"We will collect information, including from judges and magistrates, to enable us to do this and once an assessment has been made, determine whether there are any areas of the guidelines that the council may need to revisit." She added: "Judges and magistrates must follow the sentencing guidelines unless it would be unjust to do so, in which case they must give a reason."Possession of a knife or other bladed article, or using one to threaten, automatically attracts the most severe sentences under the guidelines." Celebrity criminal lawyer Nick Freeman said: "A suspended sentence is basically a let-off provided they don't breach its requirements." He has called for an immediate custodial sentence of six months for anyone caught with a knife, targeted stop and search, giving schools the power to search pupils and making it mandatory to report to police any pupil found with a blade.