Two men who were caught red-handed dealing cannabis almost two years ago have avoided jail - because their case took so long to come to court.

Jason Cope, 25, and Kieran Robinson, 21, were stopped by officers in Wythenshawe in June 2019 in the front seats of a Vauxhall Astra.

Smelling strongly of cannabis, officers also discovered two plastic bags containing 58 snap bags of the drug in the footwell of the car.

The total weight was estimated to be 124g and the total value was said to be between £840 and £960, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

Robinson, then 19, was also found with over £1,000 in cash, as well as a debtors list.

Despite both men answering ‘no comment’ in their interviews, they later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply a controlled drug - only after they were charged in August 2020.

Now appearing for sentence, a judge has blasted the delays it took the case to reach the courts, stating: “Justice delayed is justice denied, to the public and to the defendants.

“This is a classic case of justice being denied - it is inexcusable.”

Opening the case, prosecutor Simon Barratt told the court that on June 9 2019 at around 7.30pm officers approached a parked car on Brookcroft Avenue.

Kieran Robinson

“Cope was driving and Robinson was the passenger - Cope was disqualified at the time and has been charged with that and has since been given a community order in respect of that,” Mr Barratt said.

“There was a strong smell of cannabis coming from the car and Robinson motioned to the footwell where there were two large bags containing 58 snap bags of cannabis.

“There was also a debtors list and Robinson was found with cash totalling £1,109.65.”

Cope, of Wythenshawe, avoided jail

Cope was said to have six previous convictions for 13 offences including cocaine possession. Robinson has no previous convictions, prosecutors said.

Mitigating for Cope, defence lawyer Thomas McKail told the court: “The offences are of some age and unremarkable - they were two young men who were seen, stopped and seized.

“My client has not committed any further offences in this time and has kept to the conditions of his community order.”

Sentencing them, Judge Anthony Cross QC said: “The public have to understand what is going on - I want to ask about the delays in bringing the case to court.

“A boy of 19 who committed any offence for which he should have been dealt with - two years has passed by, his life has changed and judges are supposed to do justice?

“The first thing the police noticed was a strong smell of cannabis, in the passenger footwell there were two large plastic bags with 58 snap bags containing something which appeared to be cannabis.

“Just putting two-and-two together, they got the smell of cannabis and the cannabis and the snap bags and two men in the car.

“But it doesn’t stop there, as they found a debtors list, a list of people who owe money for the purchase of cannabis, and you, Robinson, had £1,109.65 in cash.

Minshull Street Crown Court

“When you were both interviewed you made no comment, no doubt on advice from your solicitors, but there was nothing at all to have stopped the police after speaking to the CPS lawyer for you to have been charged on the day you were arrested with possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

“It defies belief you were not charged then.

“Justice delayed is justice denied to the public and to the defendants.

“This is a classic case of justice being denied - it is inexcusable.”

Judge Cross told the counsel he would be informing the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and Mayor Andy Burnham of the case - following recent reports of huge backlogs in criminal court cases.

Cope, of Lownorth Road, was handed six months imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.

Robinson, of Panfield Road, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.

The drugs recovered were ordered to be forfeited and destroyed, and the money will be sent to the charity ‘Women MATTA’.