Drug dealer snared by undercover cops

A drug dealer who was snared by undercover police and is already in prison for other crimes has finally been sentenced at court more than three years after the offence.

Martin Steele.
Martin Steele.

Martin Steele was arrested after supplying two Northumbria Police officers as part of Operation Hyena back in 2017.

Steele, 34, handed over cocaine to the estimated value of £40 on October 18, 2017, and was arrested afterwards.

But for reasons unknown to Newcastle Crown Court, the offence was not dealt with last year when Steele was jailed for separate drug offences and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, totalling three years six months.

Jon Harley, prosecuting, said the undercover operation targeted drug supply in the South Tyneside area between late 2017 and February 2018.

Mr Harley said: "A number of drug deals took place. Mr Steele was involved in just one of them which took place on October 18, 2017.

"He was subsequently arrested and interviewed and gave no comment to all questions asked.

"The crown would classify his role as significant as he was clearly in it for financial gain."

Steele, formerly of Blenheim Walk, South Shields, admitted supplying Class A cocaine.

Mr Recorder Green sentenced Steele to nine months imprisonment, to run concurrently alongside the one he is already serving, after sympathising with the situation he found himself in.

Mr Green said: ""For reasons which nobody in court seems to have got to the bottom of, Northumbria Police failed to charge you with this offence in time for you to be dealt with accordingly for the other offences you were sentenced for last year.

"Through no fault of your own you are being sentenced today.

"What I've got to work out is what category of offending, taken into the other ones fall into.

"There are various factors mitigating it powerfully.

"In excess of three years waiting to be dealt with for an offence such as this is, as a delay, nothing short of a disgrace and from what I've heard it's not your fault.

"That to me is powerful mitigation which is effectively pushing it down the range."

Tom Mitchell, mitigating, added: "Whatever way you look at it, he's not selling to a real addict albeit in theory it could be.

"He's not selling to a real addict and is doing it once."