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Jail for artist caught with £50,000 of drugs, charges dropped against Burbage woman

Swindon Crown CourtSwindon Crown CourtAn award-winning artist who was caught with more than £50,000 worth of drugs he was going to supply has been jailed for four years and ten months.

Paul Cummings claimed he was looking after the stash for a 'psychotic' friend and had buried them in Savernake Forest, before planning to give them back.

But the day before the 48-year-old was due to fly out to Thailand he was caught with the drugs by police investigating a stolen van he had been using.

And after he admitted what he had done prosecutors at Swindon Crown Court said they would drop the charges against 42-year-old Burbage woman Tessa Twisk, who drove the car in which some of the drugs were found.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said police went to the rear of offices on St Johns Street, Devizes, on Thursday, December 3 to see an 'abandoned' van, which turned out to be stolen.

"While police were checking it, this defendant and Miss Twisk arrived in her Nissan Sunny. He had the keys to the Vauxhall Combo van," he said.

There was a heavy smell of cannabis coming from the car so it was searched, he said, and officers found numerous amounts of drugs and cash.

And when the van was looked in, further quantities of drugs were found including crystal meth and cocaine.

"There were bundles of cash here there and everywhere and bundles of drugs here there and everywhere," he said.

Officers found about 20g of cocaine, worth up to £3,500, and 3,100 pills of class A drug methyl amphetamine, worth up to £15,000 on the streets.

He also had just under a kilo of cannabis, worth up to £9,500, 698g of ketamine, worth £21,000, as well as amphetamines and another class B drug.

Mr Meeke said that as well as the drugs, with a street value of up to £53,000, the defendant was also found in possession of £12,194 in cash.

Cummings, of no fixed abode, but formerly living in Bromham, admitted six counts of possessing drugs with intent to supply and driving while disqualified.

Twisk, of Webbs Way, Burbage, denied the drugs charges and the Crown offered no evidence against her.

The court was told Cummings was jailed for 30 months in Newcastle in 1995 for drug dealing and five years in 2006 for similar matter in Swindon.

Paul Binder, defending, said his client accepted he was facing another jail term but urged the court not to impose the mandatory minimum.

He said the long periods between the convictions and the fact he felt under pressure to hold on to the drugs should count in his favour.

After burying them in Savernake Forest he said he was returned them as he was flying to the far east the next day to have dental care there.

"All Mr Cummings did was take these drugs out of circulation for a few weeks and return them," he said.

"He said 'I was arrested in the process of returning these drugs'. There is no suggestion he was involved in commercial supply."

Jailing him Judge Peter Blair QC said "I have no hesitation in saying I put you at the top of the range."

He also banned him from the road for three year and five months.

Cummings, whose art has been hung in London and Exeter, won an award at an exhibition at The Pound arts centre in Corsham in 2009 for his portrait of Sex Pistols front man Jonny Rotten.

 

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