Northamptonshire Shambala festival drug dealer avoids prison sentence

Police were called after security officers at Shambala found Belcher with illegal drugs
Police were called after security officers at Shambala found Belcher with illegal drugs

A cocaine and ecstasy dealer who travelled to a Northamptonshire music festival from Birmingham to sell drugs has avoided going to prison.

Northampton Crown Court heard how Luke Belcher, 30, sneaked into the festival at Kelmarsh Hall despite not having a ticket back in August 2016.

Belcher, of Willows Road, Birmingham, was seen by security guards without a wristband with bloodshot eyes and blood on his face.

They took him to their base where he was found to have ten nitrous oxide canisters, balloons and a nitrous oxide dispenser. After police were called, they discovered £231 in cash, 16g of cannabis, cocaine worth £3,000 and 16g of ecstasy worth £3,000.

Belcher had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possession with intent to supply cocaine, possession of ecstasy and possession of cannabis.

The court heard how Belcher had previous convictions for having a dangerous dog in 2014 and for drug possession and battery in June and July 2018.

He had failed to keep up with community service appointments handed down as part of his punishment for those convictions.

Mitigating for Belcher, Robert Tolhurst said: “This wasn’t in the context of street dealing to addicts.

“He has his own problems with drug abuse.

“He’d attended the festival with the intention of dealing to festival-goers in order to fund his own addiction.

“I’d say it’s not street dealing because it’s not the awful picture of a well-versed dealer trawling the streets of suburban towns, hand out of the window, dealing to people who can’t do without the drugs.

“The supply was on a recreational basis.”

Mr Tolhurst said that the offences had taken place three years ago and that Belcher’s life had changed considerably since the offences took place and he now had a job and was in a steady relationship.

“There’s dealing, and then there’s dealing,” added Mr Tolhurst.

“This is not a man with a long history of dealing to street addicts.

“This was an aberration borne out of the fact he was an addict.”

The offences took so long to get to court because of the police delay in gathering evidence from Belcher’s mobile phone.

Sentencing Belcher to two year, one year and four month prison sentences to run concurrently - suspended for two years - Recorder David Chinery said that he had taken into account a pre-sentence report and good character references.

Shambala has a zero tolerance policy on drugs. The festival’s website says that anyone caught with drugs in the site will be handed over to police.