Law student jailed for dealing crack cocaine

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By Alex Aldridge on

Hertfordshire University first-year law student is sent to prison for three years this morning, after disastrous sequence of events set in motion by his lack of money.


University fees may have trebled, and fees for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) may be at record levels, but it’s still not OK for law students to develop sidelines as dealers of Class A drugs — as the tale of Brian Coughlan illustrates.

Coughlan was a law student at Hertfordshire University with a secret sideline as a drug dealer. Everything changed for him when, on 21 August 2012, he went for a ride on his bike and was stopped by police because of his positioning in the middle of the road.

The police officers smelt cannabis on Coughlan, perhaps explaining his irregular road position, and accompanied him back to his student digs. In his bedroom, they found a locked safe, to which the law student — who seems to have had a limited understanding of his legal rights — handed them over the keys. Inside were more than 30 wraps of cocaine, weighing a total of 5.69 grams. In addition, a knife showing traces of cocaine was discovered, alongside cannabis, two sets of scales, two mobile phones, two iPhones, an iPad and £845 cash.

The phones were examined, with St Albans Crown Court hearing that they contained text messages with references to B (meaning, apparently, brown for heroin) and W (white for cocaine).

Having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, Coughlan — who has no previous convictions — was sentenced to three years in prison today.

According to his barrister, Sherry Nabijou, Coughlan was driven to deal drugs because he was short of money. Nabijou acknowledged that Coughlan, now 22, had made a “massive error of judgement”, adding: “He had just completed his first year of a law degree, but now will never be able to practise.”

The presiding judge, Recorder John Plumstead, said:

“Crack cocaine is a catastrophic blight on society. Those who take it surrender their free will and go on to live miserable lives. Nobody took the decision to sell crack cocaine by mistake.”