Devon

Drug dealer who returned home for Christmas jailed

Plymouth Crown Court
Image caption Alexander Cornish was jailed at Plymouth Crown Court after fleeing Britain in 2006

A drug dealer who was on the run for 14 years has been jailed after he returned to Britain to visit family during the Christmas holidays.

Alexander Cornish admitted producing cannabis at his student property in Princetown, Devon, in 2005.

But he fled to France in 2006 while on bail, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

He was arrested at Bristol Airport in December and has been jailed for 10 months for drugs offences and a further two months for breaching bail.

At his original trial, Cornish, now 46, admitted producing and possessing cannabis with intent to supply after 194 plants were found at his property.

The then second-year plant science student at the University of Plymouth said the drug was for medicinal purposes for back pain.

He absconded in March 2006 before a fact-finding hearing and moved to the south of France, fearing he would reoffend if he stayed in Britain, the court was told.

'Completely lost his way'

Cornish was arrested on 28 December at the airport in front of his wife and seven-year-old daughter, who were travelling with him, as he returned to visit other members his family.

Ali Rafati QC, defending, said Cornish was sorry for what he had done but "had completely lost his way" after falling in with a group who were "a bad influence".

His wife had helped "utterly turned his life around", according to Mr Rafati.

Cornish told the court he "sincerely regrets this whole situation" and was extremely concerned about the effect on his family.

Sentencing, Judge Townsend said the way Cornish - who also has two adopted children - turned his life around was a "very important factor in your favour".

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