Cocaine dealer jailed after being stopped by chance

Thomas Horrigan.

A cocaine dealer has been jailed for 18 months after police in Northallerton caught him by chance.

Thomas Horrigan, 21, who is from the town, was a passenger in a tipper van which was stopped in Scholla Lane by a police constable who had been called out to reports of “road-traffic problems” involving motorbikes, York Crown Court heard.

After arriving at the scene to deal with the traffic issues, the officer spotted the orange tipper van parked near the motorcycles.

Prosecutor Calum McNicholas said that when the officer asked Horrigan what he was up to, he said he was in the area to “enjoy the countryside” and the driver had nipped out to spend a penny.

“(Horrigan) appeared to be under the influence and admitted having a drink,” added Mr McNicholas.

But his ruse unravelled when he dropped “an item” on the ground. When the officer asked him what it was, Horrigan replied: “It’s coke.”

He was arrested and during a search of the van the officer found three mobile phones. The total amount of drugs seized weighed 10.5g, just under half an ounce worth up to £1,200.

Analysis of the phones revealed cut-and-dried evidence of drug dealing, but Horrigan refused to answer police questions after being taken into custody.

He ultimately admitted possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and appeared for sentence via video link today after being remanded in custody.

The court heard that at the time of the drug bust – at about 9.15pm on August 25, 2022 – Horrigan was still under investigation for being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs.

He had eight previous offences on his record including the cannabis-supply offence for which he was given a community order in July last year.

Defence barrister David Ward said that Horrigan, of Ashlands Road, Northallerton, had been dealing to feed his own cocaine habit.

He said the father-of-three had endured a turbulent upbringing and lived a “chaotic” lifestyle.

Judge Simon Hickey told Horrigan: “Class A drugs, Mr Horrigan, destroy lives, particularly young lives, and that ripples out into society.”

He said “there was clearly somebody else involved in this” but that person appeared to have evaded justice.

Horrigan will serve half of the 18-month jail sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.