Four dealers who were caught on camera selling cannabis to youngsters at The Level skatepark have been sentenced.
The four men were all arrested in summer 2018 along with three teenagers – two who were just 13 – after a series of deals were caught on CCTV.
On Friday (17 April), Hove Crown Court was told that police observed Lasells Hazel, Rhahim McLeod, Elson Brito and Arman Patel exchanging bags of cannabis in exchange for cash in May and June that year.
All parties other than the clerk – including the judge and the defendants – appeared via video link.
Abigail Husbands, prosecuting, said: “The operation targeted The Level skatepark in Brighton in order to reduce drug dealing taking place there and to investigate whether older dealers were targeting younger skaters.
“No evidence of slavery act offences was found but CCTV did show regular cannabis dealing with these defendants being seen to deal cannabis together.”
Andrew Stephens, defending McLeod, said: “He wasn’t the architect. It was ongoing before he got involved and it continued after he left.
“McLeod, like so many others, smoked an awful lot of cannabis and, like so many others, he used to buy his cannabis from The Level.
“He realised he could sell as well as buy to fund his habit and there were plenty of other people doing the same thing.
“He didn’t encourage or intimidate anyone in any way.”
Archie Mackay, defending 19-year-old Patel, criticised the length of time that it had taken the CPS to bring the charges.
He said: “The situation with Patel is radically different. He was 17 at the time of these offences and when he was 16 he amassed 10 GCSEs with grades A to C.
“He had mental health issues and his mother didn’t realise what was happening and there was a rapid descent into delinquency.
“He should have been dealt with in a youth court. When the charges were brought in October 2019, he wobbled and has had to take a year out of his college course.
“It’s inexplicable why he was not dealt with earlier – it’s wrong.”
In his sentencing, Judge Jeremy Gold singled out Patel’s mother Lisa Newton for praise for the letter she had written to him and although he rejected Mr Mackay’s suggestion of a discharge, he suspended his four-month prison sentence for two years.
Hazel, 32, who is currently in Ford Prison, and McLeod, 25, of Rochester, Kent, were both jailed for eight months for dealing cannabis.
McLeod was given another eight months for having a lock knife which police saw him throw away as they chased him in Rose Terrace.
Brito, 23, of Francis Street, Brighton was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years for dealing cannabis.
Both Brito and Patel were ordered to undertake 20 rehabilitation days and to wear an electronic tag for six months for dealing cannabis.
All seven of those arrested in 2018 have also been charged with conspiring to supply cannabis but Friday’s hearing did not deal with that charge other than to formally enter the not guilty pleas for the four present.
Six of the seven pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing on Friday 13 March to being concerned in the supply of cannabis and all but two of those appeared at Hove Crown Court on Friday (17 April).
The two who did not appear, Jacques Jugnarain, 18, of Canning Street, Brighton, and a 15-year-old from Portslade who cannot be named, were unable to attend because of technical difficulties.
Their sentencing has been adjourned until next Friday afternoon (24 April).
The seventh defendant charged with conspiracy to supply, a 15-year-old boy from Oxford, has yet to be dealt with.
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