A judge said he could see no reason why it would be unjust to jail a third strike drug dealer for seven years.

Deano Mcloud, 36, of Shelley Close, Abingdon, was found guilty on Thursday of possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and possession of the cash proceeds of his drug dealing.

Together with addict-turned cocaine warehouseman Mason Thomas, the 36-year-old was spotted palming drugs to customers near a children’s play area in Boxhill Park, Abingdon, on September 1, 2020.

READ MORE: Abingdon drug dealer scattered drug wraps as he fled

An off-duty policeman, who was visiting the park with his two children, called 999 and when two colleagues turned up the drug pushers fled.

Mcloud scattered 26 wraps of crack as he ran off and shrugged off a coat in which officers later found £567 cash. With the help of a police dog, officers found him hiding in a wooded area of the park.

Thomas, 28, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in dealing ahead of his co-defendant's trial, had no drugs on him in the park.

But when they searched his home, police officers discovered 10.4g of cocaine worth between £750 and £1,000 and £4,970 in cash.

Lyall Thompson, for Mcloud, explained that his client’s brother had been murdered in Jamaica in 2006.

In January 2020, 10 months before he was caught dealing in Abingdon, the defendant was 'unjustly' held for a week in an immigration detention facility, which had a significant impact on his mental health. He was described by his partner as a ‘good family man’ and a good father to their children.

Imposing the mandatory minimum sentence of seven years, Judge Ian Pringle QC told Mcloud: “I cannot ignore the fact that you have in the past in 2007 and in 2014 been found guilty of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

“Your counsel very realistically says that he can’t really differentiate the particular circumstances of those offences with this particular offence.

“Section 313 of the Sentencing Act makes it incumbent upon me to pass a sentence of seven years’ imprisonment at least on the third conviction of an offence of this nature and I see nothing in your particular circumstances which should deter me from doing so.”

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Co-defendant Thomas, of Lake Street, Oxford, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine to another and was given two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years.

His barrister, Gordana Austin, said her client had developed a drug debt after turning to cocaine and alcohol when he was furloughed then lost his chair factory job during lockdown. He was storing the cocaine and cash for another, the court heard.

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