Stoneyholme community ‘in fear’ of teen gang

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Police have failed in a bid to ban an alleged “street drug dealer” from part of Burnley, where residents are said to fear him.

Lancashire Constabulary wanted to keep Sheikh Juned (18) out of Stoneyholme, where, they claimed, he is a member of a gang involved in the supply of drugs and crime – and which thinks it is “untouchable”. They applied to Burnley magistrates for a criminal behaviour order to be imposed when Juned was sentenced for two counts of possessing cannabis with intent to supply, but were unsuccessful. The defendant opposed the order.

Juned is a convicted arsonist and robber who is said to have a £10,000 a year – £30 a day – cannabis habit, but doesn’t work or claim benefits. He was said to have been described as a “big problem” for the community by a local shopkeeper. Residents in the area, it was claimed, had alleged he was one of a number of people who stood around on street corners dealing drugs, but none were prepared to come forward.

The Bench said they were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Juned engaged in the conduct alleged and that his behaviour was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. They said evidence from people in the area was hearsay, Juned had not been arrested since the middle of last year and had not been arrested for drug dealing in the area. The chairman added: “There’s no evidence to suggest any drug dealing.”

Juned, of Higher Reedley Road, Burnley, had admitted the two cannabis charges, which took place on April 8th and May 12th. He received a 12-month community order, with 12 months’ supervision and 40 hours unpaid work. The defendant was ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Prosecutor Miss Enza Geldard said police went to Gordon Street, Burnley, last April and noticed a strong smell of cannabis. Three people were searched and Juned had five snap seal bags of cannabis, a mobile phone and cash on him.

Officers attended on April 19th and again noticed a strong smell of drugs. All five occupants were searched, nothing was seized from them, but nine snap seal bags of cannabis were found on a chair on which the defendant had been seated. The bags were tested for fingerprints but none were recovered.

Miss Geldard said, on May 12th, police were in Burns Street, recently the subject of complaints about men dealing drugs on the back street. Four Asian men ran off. Juned was detained at the top of the street and had 12 snap bags of cannabis on him. He was arrested and cautioned and made no reply.

The prosecutor said Juned had a serious record and had seven convictions, beginning with arson in 2012. He also had previous offences of burglary, robbery and attempted robbery.

Applying for the criminal behaviour order on conviction, Miss Geldard read a supporting statement from PC David Cottam, the community beat manager for the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme area.

The officer alleged Juned was one of a number of young Asian men involved in the supply and use of drugs and the commission of crime and anti-social behaviour in and around Stoneyholme.

The officer said a local shopkeeper reported seeing the defendant exchange small packages, which he believed were drugs, for cash. The man described Juned as a “big problem” for the community, but said people didn’t come forward because they were afraid of him. Juned’s solicitor Mark Williams told the hearing the defendant pleaded guilty to the drugs allegations on the basis he and his friends put their money together, would buy cannabis and share it out. It was not commercial dealing.

Mr Williams said the defendant had no convictions for drug dealing “out and about on the streets”. The solicitor added: “He’s not once been arrested for being out on the streets dealing drugs.”

The solicitor said Juned grew up in Stoneyholme and had friends and relatives in that area. He told the Bench: “It’s not appropriate to make an order.” Mr Williams added Juned didn’t claim benefits and relied on his parents for money.