A York man who was cleared of operating a hair salon during the Coronavirus lockdown has now been spared prison for dealing cocaine.
Ryan Cross, 32, former director of Q Gentlemen’s Barbers, was arrested after covert police surveillance showed he was making clandestine trips to the area around an old factory works on Bishopthorpe Road to drop off cocaine packets, York Crown Court heard.
Cross denied the allegation but pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial on the basis that he was only dealing to friends and acquaintances.
The prosecution accepted his plea which meant that any jail sentence was liable to be suspended.
Prosecutor Austin Newman said that in November 2021, again when the country was in the grip of the pandemic, police carried out covert-camera surveillance of a wooded scrubland on Bishopthorpe Road “as a result of observations being made about someone suspiciously going to and from that area”.
He said that Cross was seen in that area on two days in November 2021 when another individual was spotted at the scene but obscured by darkness.
On 30 November, police found a plastic tub at the scene containing two packages. The first package contained five wraps of cocaine containing “1g deals” worth up to £350.
The second package contained eight larger, 3.5g “deals” worth £250 each. In total, they had a street value of up to £2,350.
Cross was identified from his clothing, mobile-cell-site analysis and police ANPR camera tracking of his vehicle, along with incriminating text messages indicating drug dealing.
Mr Newman said Cross remained silent when being quizzed by cops but ultimately pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine on the basis that he was only dealing only to friends “without any real profit being made”.
Cross, of Alness Drive, Woodthorpe, appeared for sentence yesterday (Monday) knowing his liberty was hanging in the balance.
He had already served a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence imposed in November 2015 for possession with intent to supply MDMA, a Class A Ecstasy-type drug. His also had previous convictions for serious violence, dangerous driving and harassment.
Defence barrister Dan Cordey was spared the need for mitigation after judge Simon Hickey said he could take an “exceptional course” in not sending Cross to jail because of his basis of plea and the fact that he was now running a new business and appeared to have turned his life around.
Mr Hickey told Cross he’d have been looking at exactly the same length of sentence he received for dealing in 2015 “and probably a bit more” if he had been convicted by a jury and found guilty of dealing to a wider customer base.
But he said he had to conform with the basis of plea as accepted by the prosecution, which was “very different” to the original charge. He also noted that Cross would lose his livelihood if he were jailed.
Cross received a 20-month jail sentence, but this was suspended for two years. He was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and complete a 30-day rehabilitation programme.
In December last year, Cross and his fellow Q Barbers director Dylan Bell, 28, of Burnholme Drive, Tang Hall, were acquitted of operating a business during Covid restrictions which had forced public-facing businesses such as hair salons to shut down to stem the spread of the virus.
District judge Adrian Lower, sitting at York Magistrates’ Court, declared that the prosecution had not carried out a legal procedure that it should have done in preparing for the trial.
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