Judge was right to jail cocaine conspiracy gang member for 12 years, London's Appeal Court rules

Nicholas Casselden was locked up for 12 years at Newcastle Crown Court in August last year for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Nicholas Casselden was locked up for 12 years at Newcastle Crown Court in August last year for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

A man who played a 'pivotal' role in a trans-Pennine gang that trafficked cocaine in bulk deserved his tough sentence, top judges have ruled.

Nicholas Casselden, of Dixon Rise, Horden, was locked up for 12 years at Newcastle Crown Court in August last year.

The 42-year-old was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine, Mr Justice Nicol told London's Appeal Court.

The plot ran from December 2014 until January 2016, but Casselden's involvement ended when he was arrested in October 2015.

Kilos of cocaine were shifted between gangs in Liverpool and the North East, the court heard.

Casselden played a 'pivotal role' as 'first receiver' of the drugs sourced from Liverpool, said the judge who jailed him.

He was arrested after supplying a quarter of a kilo of 88% pure cocaine to another conspirator.

He had 17 previous convictions, for 32 offences, and had been jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2007 for being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Lawyers for Casselden argued that his jail term was far too long and should be reduced.

But Mr Justice Nicol, who was sitting with two other judges, disagreed.

There was 'ample evidence' that the 'quantity of cocaine involved in the conspiracy, while Casselden had been an active member, was at least five kilos'.

"There is no reasonable ground for arguing that his sentence was manifestly excessive or wrong in principle,' ruled the judge

"This renewed application for permission to appeal against sentence is refused."

Casselden was one of four men sentenced by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court after a three-week trial in June last year.

They had been arrested a year-long investigation by the North East Regional Special Operations Unit.

The investigative team spent months using covert surveillance during which they witnessed drug deals taking place.

A number of searches were carried out following the arrests, which saw officers seize high purity cocaine.