A judge slammed the 'inexcusable lengthy delay' in bringing a Stonehouse drug dealer to court - five years after his offence.

Shannon Wilkins, 32, of Severn Road, Stonehouse, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday to possessing skunk cannabis worth £2,216 with intent to supply on 29th August 2016.

Judge Richard Shepherd sentenced him to an 18 month community order with a requirement to do 160 hours of unpaid work.

Having heard that the drugs were found in Wilkins' holdall by police back in the summer of 2016, the judge said there was now 'scant' information available to the court about the circumstances of the case after such a long passage of time.

"However, the headline figure is that the cannabis that was seized had a value of £2,216 and that makes it clear to me that it was a stash ready for dealing, especially so because of the way it was prepared," said the judge.

He said there were two 'significant aggravating features' in the case - Wilkins was at the time of the offence subject to a suspended prison sentence and he also had 'unattractive previous convictions.'

Set against that, the judge said, was the fact that Wilkins had not offended again in the five years since the offence.

"The powerful mitigation is that he has not been in trouble again and that he was setting up as successful business which has unfortuntely failed in recent months due to the pandemic. I hope he is able to rebuild his business in the future.

"There is also the inexcuable lengthy delay in his case, which was not prepared properly at the start of this prosecution.

"Overall there have been delays on the Crown side of about two years that do not really have any valid explanation.

"I make no criticism of a probationer officer who had to take up the case once it had been undertaken."

The judge told Wilkins: "I suspect, but cannot be sure, that you know a little bit more about these drugs than you are letting on. All I can be sure about is that these drugs were in a holdall, pre-wrapped and worth about £2,200.

"You have my admiration for the efforts you have made in the last few years to turn your life around. But for this 'legacy case' I wouldn't have expected to see you in court again. "

The judge said he believed Wilkins would be an asset to the unpaid work team he joins to carry out his sentence.

"You are now old enough and wise enough to be a leader in the unpaid work sessions and it is time for you to show the young 'uns how it's done," he said. "Best of luck with your business in the future."