Appeal justices slammed the ‘misery’ caused by County Lines drug dealing as they threw out a crack line kingpin’s attempt to reduce his seven year jail sentence.

Lawyers for Nicco Pascal, 28, sought to persuade the Court of Appeal that the sentence of seven years and three months imposed by Oxford’s Judge Michael Gledhill QC in April was manifestly excessive.

They argued that the ‘third strike’ drug dealer, who pleaded after his first hearing at the crown court but before the trial, should have been given more than 10 per cent off his jail time.

Typically, repeat drug dealers looking at the mandatory minimum sentence of seven years could expect a 20 per cent reduction for an early guilty plea, with 10 per cent usually reserved for those who plead on the day of their trial.

Richard Davies, appearing for Pascal at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday, also said that the judge should not have imposed a consecutive sentence on Pascal for escaping police custody when he was arrested in Chipping Norton in August 2020.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Fraser said County Lines drug dealing not only ‘spread misery and damage to the health and lives of the users’ but also ‘inevitably’ led to prison sentences.

He noted that Judge Gledhill said it was a ‘matter of regret that a young man of only 28 years of age was already appearing before the court for his third such offence’ of drug dealing. “This court shares that regret,” he said.

The judges suggested County Lines dealing, which sees big city gangs travelling to smaller towns and cities to deal drugs, was more significant than ordinary drug dealing.

“County Lines involves a degree of business sophistication and organisation that mere street dealing does not,” Mr Justice Fraser told Pascal, who appeared in court via video link from The Mount prison in Hertfordshire.

Earlier this year, Oxford Crown Court heard Thames Valley Police launched an operation into Pascal’s drugs line last June. On august 13, Witney police officers swooped on the dealer as he sat in a vehicle in Chipping Norton. He pushed a PC over, grabbed his phone and fled.

Police caught up with the Londoner on November 5, when he was arrested at a house in Bicester.

Following the sentencing hearing in April, Det Insp Aidan Donohoe said: "County line offenders like Pascal exploit vulnerable drug users and young people to facilitate their criminal activity and in doing so seek to avoid traditional police enforcement efforts.

"Drug line holders base themselves outside of the counties that they are targeting and we will continue to work jointly with police forces from urban areas to target these offenders and will use a variety of tactics to ensure we are pursuing those that sit at the top of the county line hierarchy.”

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