Cocaine-dealing car mechanic who was part of major Sunderland drugs ring challenges court order

Andrew Belford
Andrew Belford

A car mechanic jailed for seven years for dealing cocaine has successfully challenged an order which would have stopped him fixing cars for a living.

Prosecutors wanted to make a serious crime prevention order against Andrew Belford.

He was jailed earlier this year for his part in a major drugs ring in Sunderland.
The order, which applies from when Belford is released from his sentence, restricts him to owning or having use of one car, which must be registered with the police.

He is also allowed only one mobile phone, and to have a maximum of £500 in cash.

Belford's trial heard how he and others used numerous cars and mobile phones to arrange and carry out cash drug deals in various parts of the country.

Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told Teesside Crown Court: "The aim of the order is to fetter his ability to move around anonymously in cars to facilitate drug deals."

Matthew Donkin, for Belford, said the order would prevent him working as a car mechanic.

"It is the only trade he knows," said Mr Donkin.

"Realistically, working as a mechanic is the only way he has of earning a legitimate income upon his release from prison.

"He does not challenge the order, but he would like its terms varied to allow him to pursue his chosen career.

"After working on a customer's car, he would have a legitimate need to road test it."

Mr Herrmann said allowing Belford to road test cars would enable him to travel anonymously to do drugs deals under the guise of testing a car.

Following further negotiation, Judge Deborah Sherwin ruled Belford could work on cars other than his own at garage premises, but he could not test drive them.

"I realise that means someone else will have to test the cars," said the judge

"That may cause some inconvenience to Mr Belford.

"Circumstances can change as the years pass, and he should realise he would be at liberty to apply to vary the order in future."

Judge Sherwin made the order for five years, starting from when Belford is released from prison.

Belford, 33, of Londonderry Street, Silksworth, was jailed for seven years in January of this year for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Prosecutors are seeking a similar order against co-conspirator Robert Anderson, 45, of D'Arcy Court, Sunderland, who was jailed for 10 years at the same time as Belford.

The hearing for Anderson was adjourned to a date to be fixed after Tony Davis, defending, said the order is opposed in his case.