A dealer’s cannabis stash was found in a children’s toy box at his partner’s home, a court heard.

But Aimal Dawlatzai was spared an immediate prison sentence – with the judge citing in part the two year delay since the 24-year-old’s arrest.

Prosecutor Aubrey-Fletcher told Oxford Crown Court that police officers searched Dawlatzai’s partner’s property in Stanton Harcourt, on November 16, 2020.

“A box containing cannabis was found in a child’s toy box with scales and a bag containing a number of plastic wraps,” she said.

The scales contained traces of cannabis and cocaine.

When his phone was seized by the officers, they noticed a message on the screen in which a ‘regular customer’ told the dealer they had ‘got my money back up bruv’.

The cannabis was a strong variety called skunk. It weighed more than 85g, or around three ounces.

A police drugs expert said the cannabis would have been worth around £600 packaged as it was or £1,000 if divided up into smaller bags and dealt on the street.

In a prepared statement, read during his police interview on November 17, he denied intending to supply the drugs. His fingerprints were later found on the package.

Dawlatzai, of Wheatfield Drive, Curbridge, initially pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to supply, but changed his plea late last year.

Mitigating, Hugh Mullan said his client had been sent to the UK from his native Afghanistan – alone  – when he was just 13.

Problems with his asylum claim meant he was unable to work legally until he was in his early 20s, the court heard.

He ‘fell into gambling’ then got involved in dealing drugs as a result of ‘peer pressure’, Mr Mullan said.

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The lawyer had reviewed his client’s medical records, which ran to some 300 pages, and noted Dawlatzai had suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since his arrest in 2020, he had not been charged with further offences.

He had his own flat in Witney and, as well as receiving Universal Credit, had worked shifts at Home Bargains before Christmas to help support a three-year-old son from a previous relationship.

Imposing 10 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Michael Gledhill KC said the laws of the land applied to Dawlatzai ‘as they do to anybody else’.

He was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, a mental health treatment programme and further probation sessions. He must pay £425 in costs to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward