A Hartlepool drugs lord caged for plotting to flood the town with cocaine has had his sentence cut by senior judges on appeal.
David Haggan, 44, was put behind bars for 13 years at Teesside Crown Court in 2015 after jurors convicted him of conspiring to supply cocaine.
His accomplice, another Hartlepool man David Gallagher, 54, received the same sentence.
The pair were part of a far-flung narcotics network which saw high quality cocaine channelled from Merseyside to the North East.
The drugs had in all probability only recently been shipped into the UK, Lord Justice Lindblom told London’s Appeal Court.
Haggan and Gallagher were termed the “leading lights of the eastern side of the drugs conspiracy” by the trial judge.
But the plot unravelled after police intercepted a car near a house owned by Haggan in Hartlepool.
Officers discovered a case containing traces of cocaine and around £45,000 in cash.
The case reached the Appeal Court as Haggan, of Cranwell Road, Fens Estate, challenged both his conviction and sentence.
His lawyers argued there was insufficient evidence linking him to the plot and that the trial judge’s directions to the jury were flawed.
But Lord Justice Lindblom said the judge’s guidance to jurors was “essentially sound”.
He added: “The fact remains that the jury were sure on the basis of substantial evidence that Haggan was indeed part of a conspiracy to supply cocaine in Hartlepool.
“There are no arguable grounds for holding the conviction is unsafe.”
But the judge, sitting with Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb and Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC, went on to reduce Haggan’s sentence.
The 13-year sentence was “manifestly excessive”, given that Haggan’s role was less serious than an accomplice at the Merseyside end.
“In that respect we find there was an error in the sentence, which should have been 12 years,” the judge concluded.