UK – Wales: Aspiring property developer was dealing heroin and crack ‘to pay off cannabis debt’

An aspiring young property developer has been sent to prison for 58 months after becoming involved in the supply of crack and heroin as a result of debts he built up thorough his use of cannabis, a court has heard. Saadiq Uddin found himself owing between £300 and £400 to his supplier and was then pressurised into working off that debt by dealing the Class A drugs.

After being caught red-handed by police and released under investigation he resumed dealing – this time using a 16-year-old boy as a drugs courier to make the deliveries. Uddin’s advocate told Swansea Crown Court the 21-year-old was remorseful for the shame, embarrassment, and pain he has caused his family, which he would have to live with for the rest of his life.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting, said Uddin was first arrested on July 14, 2021, by police officers operating in the Cwmbwrla area of Swansea. He said at around 3.45pm officers saw what looked like a drugs transaction being conducted at the open passenger window of a car parked off Cae Bricks Road and moved in. Uddin was found to be in possession of three wraps of heroin and £520 in cash. Further wraps of heroin as well as wraps of cocaine were found in the vehicle.

A subsequent search of Uddin’s home in New Road in Skewen found a safe in his bedroom which contained 29g of heroin and an examination of his phone found messages relating to dealing. In his interview the defendant said he had run up cannabis debts of “£300 or £400” which he had to pay off. Uddin was released under investigation and as part of that inquiries were made as to whether he was the victim of modern slavery and exploitation.

The court heard Uddin came to the attention of police again in the summer of 2022 after officers recovered phones from a number of known drug users and began to investigate an active drug supply line known as the Ace line. Through the use of call data, CCTV footage, phone top-up information, and mobile location data the phone operating the Ace line was linked to Uddin. The prosecutor said phone analysis showed the Ace line was sending out messages to up to 80 contacts advertising the availability of drugs – including dozens of bulk texts sent out to up to 65 contacts at a time – as well as receiving calls and texts from customers. On 322 occasions the Ace line had been in touch with the same number shortly after receiving an incoming call. The court heard this number belonged to a 16-year-old boy and it was the prosecution case that this contact was Uddin calling a child he was using as a “runner” to carry out deliveries of drugs. The phone analysis also showed the Ace line had accompanied Uddin on trips he had made to Tenby, Cardiff, Aberdare, and London.

As a result of the phone analysis police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s address in the Uplands area of Swansea where they recovered 25 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine, £680 in cash, and six mobiles phones. Uddin refused to provide the pins for any of the phones and police have been unable to access the devices. In his subsequent interview the defendant answered “no comment” to all questions asked.

Saadiq Uddin, of Uplands Crescent, Uplands, Swansea, admitted possession of heroin with intent to supply, possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply, conspiracy to supply crack, and conspiracy to supply heroin. He has no previous convictions.

The prosecutor told the court the modern slavery referral that following the defendant’s first arrest had come back as positive – meaning that on the balance of probability there were grounds to believe he was the victim of modern slavery – and that the finding had been taken into account in the Crown’s decision to lay charges. Andrew Evans, for Uddin, said the defendant’s involvement in supplying Class A drugs had happened through the cannabis debt he had accrued as a teenager and he said it was clear there had been an element of coercion and pressure being applied by those higher up in the supply chain. He said the debt had only increased following his first arrest and police seizure of the drugs and cash on him and after being released under investigation that debt “did not go away”.

The advocate said Uddin had gone to a well-known fee-paying school up to the age of 16 and had later embarked on an electrician’s course at Gower College Swansea’s Tycoch campus. The advocate said Uddin had been hoping to do an apprenticeship and then go on to be a property developer and that career path was still his “dream”. He said Uddin was remorseful for his actions and the shame, embarrassment, and pain he had caused his family.

Recorder David Harris said he accepted there had been an element of coercion in Uddin getting involved in the Class A drugs matters and said he accepted the defendant was genuinely remorseful. He said the two sets of offending were worthy of consecutive sentences and the involvement of a child in the conspiracy was a significant aggravating factor though he said he would reduce the level of the second sentence to take account of the principle of totality of overall sentence.

With one-third discounts or his guilty pleas Uddin was sentenced to 28 months in prison for the first set of offending and to 30 months for the second set to run consecutively making an overall sentence of 58 months in prison. The defendant will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community. The court heard the 16-year-old boy who was part of the conspiracy – who cannot be named because of his age – has previously been sentenced to a youth referral order.


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