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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Cumbrian taxi driver became drugs courier after floods ruined business

A west Cumbrian taxi driver hid behind “a cloak of respectability” to become a drug courier in a desperate attempt to make some money after his business failed because of the west Cumbrian floods.

Anthony Burrough had never been in trouble before and was considered to be a pillar of his community until the day in November last year when police stopped him in his car on the M6 near Kendal.

When officers searched his car they found about £13,000-worth of skunk cannabis – an illegal class B drug – in a bag in the boot, Carlisle Crown Court heard yesterday.

The 44-year-old long-term cannabis user later confessed that he had agreed to transport the drugs because he needed money after his partner lost her job at the same time as his business was struggling following the 2009 floods.

Burrough, of Little Broughton, near Cockermouth, pleaded guilty to possessing the drug with intent to supply it, but only on the basis that he was acting as a courier and would not have been actively involved in selling it.

Prosecutor Alan Lovett said that, even on that limited basis, it was clear that Burrough had “played a significant role” in the drugs supply chain.

Mitigating, defence advocate Chris Evans produced a sheaf of testimonials from people attesting to Burrough’s “responsible attitude to society”. He said he was highly thought of in the Cockermouth area and had done much valuable community work there.

He said lack of money was the only reason Burrough – who has an eight-year-old daughter and two grown-up children – had agreed to get involved. “He had been asked numerous times before, and had always refused, but on this occasion he agreed,” he said.

But Mr Evans added: “It was not done out of avarice. It was more the desperate situation he found himself in because of his financial circumstances.”

Mr Evans said Burrough had lost his taxi licence as a result of the offence, though he still hoped to get it back.

Burrough left the court in tears after being given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC told Burrough that his “warped attitude towards cannabis” had brought shame on him and his family.

“Those who think highly of you will have to re-assess their judgement of you in the light of what you have done,” he said.

The judge said the fact that Burrough committed the offence while working as a taxi driver only made things worse.

“The fact that you are a taxi driver aggravates the offence because it gave you a cloak of respectability which would indicate to police officers that you were not likely to be the sort of person who would be moving cannabis around,” he said.

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