Drug dealer is freed on appeal

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A DRUG dealer jailed for three years following an undercover police operation to clean up Sheffield has been freed on appeal by top judges.

Luciano Valeria-Pearson, of Steade Road, Abbeydale, supplied cannabis once and heroin three times to an undercover officer posing as a designer clothes dealer.

Judges at London’s Appeal Court agreed to replace the prison term with a community punishment after hearing he had become a reformed character following his arrest.

He was caught out during Operation Mach, which took place between late 2009 and early 2011.

He received a three-year sentence on May 18 this year, after pleading guilty to supplying cannabis and three counts of supplying heroin at Sheffield Crown Court.

After hearing the appeal case, Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Bean and Mrs Justice Swift quashed that term and replaced it with a suspended sentence and a community service order. The judges heard Valeria-Pearson had ‘turned his life’ around during the time between his arrest and sentencing.

The court was told that despite the defendant coming from a ‘respectable supportive and hard-working family’, he had been addicted to cocaine and was dealing to support his habit at the time of his arrest.

However, by the time he was sentenced, he had become free of drugs and had obtained a good job with a tele-sales company at which he was said to be ‘excelling’ before being jailed. Taking those factors into account, Mrs Justice Swift replaced his jail term with a suspended 12-month sentence.

She also imposed an order to carry out 120 hours unpaid work.

She said that the former dealer had ‘made huge progress in his life’ and that the sentencing judge had been unaware that he was addicted to cocaine when he sentenced him.

She added: “He had turned his life around. In all the circumstances the sentence of three years was too severe.”