York’s chief judge has sent out a stark message to drug suppliers in North Yorkshire after he jailed a former restaurant worker for dealing cocaine.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told 23-year-old George Berry that he was jailing him as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to peddle misery in the county’s towns and villages.
Mr Morris described drug dealing as the “mother of all crimes” and a “scourge on society” which was “overwhelming” police resources and having a devastating effect on rural and coastal communities.
He told Berry, who used to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant and had his 23rd birthday yesterday, that his sentence should act as a deterrent to others involved in the illicit trade.
Mr Morris said: “I have to tell you, as I tell all drug dealers who come before this court, that I have to mop up after people like you.
“I have to mop up the robberies, the burglaries, the shoplifting campaigns, the muggings on old women, the stealing from parents.
“All these offences are nearly always motivated to get money for drugs, Class A drugs like cocaine, in order to pay people like you.
“Your behaviour is the catalyst for all sorts of crime and who knows what crimes have been committed in Pickering in order to pay for drugs.
“That is why drug dealing is so serious. It is the mother of all crimes and it is a scourge on society.”
Berry, of Keld Head, Pickering, appeared for sentence yesterday (Wednesday) after he admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply.
Prosecutor Michael Cahill said police swooped after receiving a tip-off that Berry was involved in cocaine supply.
On 11 April, 2021, they stopped and searched him as he left a takeaway in Norton. When they asked him if he was harbouring any drugs, he told them: “I’ll just come clean – it’s in my jacket.”
Officers found cocaine inside the jacket, along with some electronic weighing scales.
Berry was arrested and had his phone seized, but when officers asked for the PIN code to his mobile, he refused to disclose it.
However, messages were pinging into his phone, including one from a customer which read: “Are you still dropping off tonight?”
Police searched his home and found more cocaine in a snap bag, said Mr Cahill.
The total amount of cocaine seized weighed just over 56g and was worth up to £4,200.
Mr Cahill said that Berry had a previous conviction for theft and two police cautions to his name for battery and affray.
Defence barrister Derek Duffy said that Berry had lately been working at a pub in Pickering but had previously worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
He had lost that job due to the industry shutting down during the Covid period and had already built up a drug debt through his own habit and started dealing to pay off that debt.
He said that Berry had turned his life around in the past two years, had beat his alcohol problem and had managed to hold down a job despite being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
But judge Mr Morris told Berry that despite his difficulties “you do know what is right and what is wrong”.
He acknowledged that Berry had “put your affairs on the straight and narrow” since the offences and there were “great things said about you” in character references.
“But there will be people kicking around Pickering, Malton, Ripon or any town in North Yorkshire, who may be considering going into the drug business to finance their own habit and maybe make a bit on the side,” added Mr Morris.
“That is why it has to be an immediate prison sentence, so that the message goes out and those people may read about this case and (the consequences), and that might just save old ladies being mugged and shops being robbed.”
Berry was handed a 21-month jail sentence but will be released at the halfway point on prison licence.
[tptn_list limit=3 daily=1 hour_range=1]