Sheffield drug dealer set up a meeting to hire illegal handgun for £360

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A Sheffield drug dealer helped set up a meeting between two men to hire a handgun while one of them was under police surveillance.

Royston Johnson, who is currently serving an 11 and a half year sentence for dealing heroin, cocaine and cannabis, took no payment for providing contact numbers in the £390 deal.

But when the men met in a hired Audi on Westmoor Road, in the early hours of April 30, 2018, armed police swooped, and the unregistered semi automatic containing five live rounds was dropped underneath the car as one of them tried to flee.

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Prosecutor Richard Thynne said the gun, which was manufactured in 1951, had been fired in an incident in Southey Green, in February 2017.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the gun had been fired in an incident in Southey GreenSheffield Crown Court heard the gun had been fired in an incident in Southey Green
Sheffield Crown Court heard the gun had been fired in an incident in Southey Green

He said the pair received sentences of 17 years and 13 years, for drug dealing and possession of a firearm, after a trial in June 2019.

Johnson, who was described as a “middle-man” and a “go-between”, tried to contact the pair, but when he became aware of their arrests, he discarded his phone.

He has five previous convictions for 11 offences.

Edward Moss, mitigating, said: "Delay is an issue here. He is a father of five children. He is a very caring man outside of this criminality.

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"There are no previous convictions for firearms or violence. There is a decent man underneath. He acknowledges that he is going to spend a long time in jail."

Johnson, 36, of Foxwood Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to conspiring to transfer a prohibited weapon, on July 27.

Judge Graham Reeds QC, who presided over the trial of Johnson's co-conspirators, told him he “played a pivotal part by putting one man in touch with the other.”

“You realised this was a firearm ready to be used to kill, maim or terrify and you carried on with your part regardless.

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"Sentences in court must address the fact that too many lethal weapons are available.”

The judge said Johnson’s role “came very close to the culpability of the seller and the purchaser,” and if he had previous convictions for this offence he would have seriously considered a life sentence.

He sentenced Johnson to 12 years, which will run alongside his current sentence.

Read the latest cases from Sheffield Crown Court here.

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