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Across the county: Landmark conviction for nitrous oxide supply

Crime / Thu 11th Jan 2024 at 08:40am

SPECIALIST drugs officers have secured one of the first convictions for supplying nitrous oxide after a landmark change in the law to help police forces crack down on anti-social behaviour.

Officers on patrol stopped a vehicle in Southernhay, Basildon, on Friday 1 December after it showed as having no valid insurance.

After the stop, a search of the vehicle uncovered more than £38,000 in cash, alongside an amount of ketamine and nitrous oxide cannisters.

A man was arrested and taken into custody.

Following this arrest, warrants were executed at addresses in Brentwood and Vange, with further amounts of Class A and B drugs discovered.

Thomas Salton, 30, of William Hunter Way, Brentwood, was charged with possession with intent to supply a controlled drug at Class A, B and C and possessing criminal property.

At Basildon Crown Court on Monday 8 January, he admitted possession with intent to supply controlled drugs at Class B and C.

He denied possession with intent to supply a controlled drug at Class A, instead admitting to a simple possession charge.

He also admitted possessing criminal property.

He is due to appear at the same court for sentence on Monday 19 February.

Salton’s conviction for possessing nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas – with intent to supply, is thought to be one of the first since the passing of a new law toughening the UK’s stance on the substance.

In November 2023, nitrous oxide was classified as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Under the legislation, users could face up to two years in prison for possession, while those convicted of supply could face up to 14 years.

Speaking previously on the law change, head of specialist operations Superintendent Philip Stinger said: 

 “We have welcomed the introduction of this new law, as it will give us as officers more options when dealing with the anti-social behaviour so often associated with the use and supply of nitrous oxide as a recreational substance.
“This means a proportionate approach to tackling those found in possession of nitrous oxide cannisters, including explaining the change in law and encouraging people not to use or buy the substance.
“But where we are dealing with a larger number of cannisters, it is right we take robust and swift action and put this new legislation to use.
“The use of nitrous oxide in public spaces is a nuisance to communities and has been shown to pose a considerable health risk.”

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