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Minor car crash led to cocaine bust that sees dealer jailed for five years

By Ashleigh McDonald

A father-of-three whose house was searched for drugs after he behaved strangely following a minor road collision aroused police suspicions has been handed a five-year sentence.

Robert Linton Scott was informed he will spend half the sentence in prison and the rest on licence after he admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply.

Sending the 35-year-old Belfast man to jail, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC spoke of both the quantity and purity of the cocaine seized and said "untold damage" could have been caused had the drug found its way onto the street.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Scott's Dhu Varren Park home was searched after he was involved in a minor collision on the Springfield Road in front of PSNI officers on April 8 last year.

When officers who witnessed the collision spoke to Scott, his "somewhat nervous and anxious" behaviour aroused suspicions.

His car was searched and officers located a plastic bag wrapped in another bag containing the mixing agent Benzocaine.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Purvis revealed that the following day Scott's home was searched, and cocaine was found at three different locations.

This including 121.32 grams with a purity of 63% and 614 grams with a 7% purity.

A total of 740 grams of the class A drug was found, with an estimated street value of around £30,000.

Mr Purvis told the jury that while Scott came before the court with 135 convictions on his criminal record, there were no offences for drugs.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey revealed that at the time of the seizure, Scott wasn't long out of prison for a prior offence, was living in difficult domestic circumstances, and was receiving help from charities to get himself "up and running".

These difficulties, the barrister said, led to Scott "allowing himself to be used".

Mr McConkey also pointed out the search of Scott's home came about due to a "chance encounter" in west Belfast that occurred right in front of police, and not because he was on the police radar for drugs.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge Miller said he accepted Scott was "acting as a go-between rather than a central figure".

Saying there was "nothing to indicate he has a significant role" in the operation, the judge branded Scott's record as "horrendous" - but acknowledged there were no previous drugs convictions.

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