Street dealer caught with cocaine is jailed

Edmond Shurbi was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court

Edmond Shurbi was sentenced to two years and four months in prison at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk police

A plumber caught with cocaine in Sudbury "succumbed to the temptation" of dealing drugs to make money after his work dried up due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a court heard. 

Police pulled over a car on Queen's Road, Sudbury, on December 10, 2020, and the driver - Edmond Shurbi - was then searched by officers. 

Police found five wraps of cocaine in his jacket pocket, with an estimated street value of around £600, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

Two mobile phones were seized along with a number of SIM cards, as well as £437.96 in cash, Simon Gladwell, prosecuting, told the court. 

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Shurbi, 34, made "full and frank" admissions in police interview, and said he had arrived into the UK illegally from Albania in the back of a lorry, which had cost him £15,000, Mr Gladwell said. 

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He told officers he was working as a plumber, doing cash jobs, but the work opportunities dried up when the coronavirus pandemic began. 

Shurbi said he had to borrow £8,000 in instalments during the year just to live and it was then that he began working as a street dealer to pay off debts. 

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He told officers no-one forced him or threatened him to sell drugs, and he had been doing it for about two weeks.

Shurbi, of Bute Road, Ilford, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply class A drugs on December 12. 

Steven Dyble, mitigating, said Shurbi was driven into a "murky world" when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

"Mr Shurbi allowed himself to get involved in this enterprise because of dire finances driven by Covid-19," he said. 

"He is a plumber by trade, and came to the UK, albeit illegally, seeking work. 

"He paid £15,000 to be brought here in a lorry and supported himself by doing cash in hand jobs. 

"He was driven to work in a murky world when Covid struck, and impacted his ability to work. From March until Christmas, he struggled to find any employment. 

"He was unable to get loans from financial institutions so was forced to borrow money to survive from undesirable sources. He then succumbed to the temptation."

Recorder John Brooke-Smith sentenced Shurbi to 28 months in prison, and he will serve half in custody before he is released on licence. 

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