Gloucester taxi driver caught with £10,000 of cannabis in the back of his cab 'is not a stranger to the drug world'
His convictions date back to 2008
A Gloucester taxi driver caught with £10,000 worth of cannabis in the back of his cab has narrowly avoided prison.
Imtiaz Panchbhaya, 32, of Falkner Street, Gloucester, pleaded guilty at the Gloucester Crown Court on Friday to possessing the Class B drug with intent to supply and to possession of £100 worth of cocaine.
Police had stopped the defendant on the Shurdington junction of the A417 on May 16, this year, the court was told.
Prosecuting barrister Ian Fenny said: “When police stopped his taxi they found one kilo of cannabis inside a black bag, a small amount of cocaine and £350 in cash.
“The defendant has previous convictions which show that he is not a stranger to the drug world.”
His convictions dated back to 2008 and included possession with intent to supply cannabis, cocaine and heroin, the court heard.
Panchbhaya was jailed for 42 months in 2012 for supplying Class A drugs.
Defending lawyer Sarah Jenkins said: “He used to use Class A drugs himself but he still uses cannabis. However, he is reducing his use.
“He was struggling under the weight of gambling and cannabis debts and he has made a bad error of judgment.”
Ms Jenkins explained that her client was in debt to the tune of £17,000 and would never be able to pay it off from his job as a taxi-driver.
“But he is now seeking professional help to sort out his finances,” said the lawyer.
His Honour Judge Richard Shepherd told him: “You were acting as a courier taking the drugs from one dealer to another. You did this with your eyes wide open.
What you should realise is that cannabis has a significant detrimental effect on people’s mental health, especially the young.”
Panchbhaya was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and made the subject of a drug rehabilitation requirement for six months.