A “courier”, acting under the orders of those higher up a chain, was involved in the supply of class A and B drugs between Manchester and the North East.

Callum Sargeant was arrested after fingerprint evidence confirmed he had previously handled packaging on a consignment of cocaine and cannabis seized by police in a car stop on the A1, near Scotch Corner, on March 31, 2019.

Durham Crown Court heard that Sargeant only offered a guilty plea to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis on the day of his scheduled trial, in late September.

The prosecution accepted his plea and agreed to leave a further charge of conspiring to supply amphetamine, “to lie on the file”.

Richard Herrmann, prosecuting, said the pleas that were accepted by the Crown were on the basis that the defendant was involved in the conspiracy only between March 25 and March 31, 2019.

“At all times it was while he was acting under the direction of another at the Eccles end in Manchester and he had no control over any other person, while he did not benefit significantly from his role.

“There’s no suggestion of any trappings of wealth associated with Callum Sergeant and that was accepted by the Crown.”

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Mr Herrmann said Sargeant was involved in the hand-over of a consignment of drugs in the car park outside The Trafford Centre, in Manchester, passing it onto a woman from the North East, following, “significant backward and forward contact”, between the pair.

“He, clearly, handed over a package of drugs for her before she set off back to the North East.”

Mr Herrmann said a man from the North East travelled to Eccles, in Manchester, on March 31, 2019, where he met the defendant and an “exchange” took place.

Police observed a package, said to be payment, being handed one way and the drugs package then being brought back to the North East before the vehicle carrying it was intercepted near Scotch Corner.

It was found to contain a kilogram of cannabis and 2kg of cocaine, said to be of a high purity.

Mr Herrmann said the defendant was not charged for some time after the drug seizure and committed a further offence in between, for the supply of cannabis and simple possession of cocaine, in August 2019, for which he received a suspended prison sentence in November 2021.

Sargeant, 27, of Salford, in Manchester, was said to have no further convictions on his record.

Laura Miller, in mitigation, said the defendant was only aged 22 at the time of the offences and performed the role of “courier” on two occasions.

“He was a cog in the chain and had no control over others, at all times acting under direction.

“Despite the level of risk, he was not receiving any significant financial reward in respect of that role.

“It’s one of those sad cases where someone commits an offence as a much younger person and, due to a variety of factors, they don’t come before the court for sentence for a significant period of time.

“In this case, he’s used the time in between to turn his life around because of his own decision and his work ethic, moving away from the circle of friends he was associating with at the time.”

Miss Miller said the defendant now has a settled relationship, a young family and is a working man.

Judge Jo Kidd, who remanded the defendant in custody after his guilty pleas on the day of trial in September, said given the background and time lapse since the offending, she would give Sargeant a 25 per cent discount on sentence.

“You’re now 27 and you were just 22 at the time, being used as a drug courier by a more sophisticated drug dealer operating out of the Manchester area, involved in the supply of class-A drugs throughout the UK.

“People from the North East were travelling to Manchester to arrange onward supply of cocaine to the North East.

“You were used as a courier and, on the basis of your plea, you were involved in two events, in March 2019, when you made an association with one of the North East dealers, delivering some items.

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“The more serious event was the stop on the A1 on March 31, 2019, where a kilogram of cannabis and 2kg of cocaine was being brought back to the North East.”

But she said she accepted the defendant has made great strides to move away from the drug world to find a steady life with his family.

She imposed a four-year prison sentence and set in motion crime proceeds inquiries, to culminate in a “mention” at the court on May 21.