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Drug dealer caught with £55k cocaine haul avoids prison after blaming her partner

Aaliyah Makanda was sentenced this week. (Reach)
Aaliyah Makanda had more than £55,000 worth of cocaine in her home. (Reach)

A drug dealer caught with more than £55,000 worth of cocaine in her home has been spared prison.

Aaliyah Makanda was the "custodian" of a huge drugs haul at her home in Kingstanding, Birmingham, which she blamed her then-boyfriend for bringing into the property.

There was also a "sophisticated" cannabis factory, worth £4,200, set up in two bedrooms, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

Judge Richard Bond compared the 58-year-old to other "greedy" dealers who he branded the "scourge of society".

He said he had no doubt Makanda's actions warranted imprisonment, but ruled her case was "exceptional".

Makanda – previously known as Pauline Millwood – admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine and production of cannabis.

She was jailed for two years, but this was suspended.

Makanda was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court. (Reach)
Makanda was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court. (Reach)

Judge Bond said: "When people become involved in drugs in such quantities it’s really easy. It boils down to greed, it’s money. Your case is slightly different.

"I'm to sentence you on the basis these drugs were brought in by your then-boyfriend and you were the custodian. But it crosses the custody threshold.

"If women realise they can get away with community orders, if they say they are the custodians for their boyfriends of such drugs, I'm afraid women are going to be used.

"It sounds utterly sexist I know. This has been my experience.

"People who have criminal experience – I'm talking about men – ask their partners to look after drugs, there's other items as well.

"People need to understand they are not going to escape an immediate custodial sentence just because they are looking after their boyfriend’s drugs. But it is different in your case."

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Judge Bond said he was suspending the sentence as the offences dated back to 2017, and since then Makanda has not committed any further crime, and that prior to that she had kept a clean record since 1998.

Police had executed a warrant at her home in November 2017, with Makanda the only person present.

Around 15 cannabis plants were discovered growing in the bedrooms. Cocaine was found in various places, including a number of wraps stashed in a Versace handbag.

In total, the quantity of cocaine had a potential street value of £55,200 while the cannabis was worth up to £4,200.

Theresa Hunt, defending, said: "She is somebody who has recognised the trigger to her offending, as in this case and former, is relationships."

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Passing sentence, Judge Bond said: "I am not a cruel man. You will be leaving this court through those [front] doors today. You won't be going to custody today but you need to listen very carefully.

"I [would] have no problem in sending you to prison. No problem saying your offending is so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified."

He then explained his reasoning for suspending the sentence and ordered Makanda to carry out up to 25 days of rehabilitation activity and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

But Judge Bond warned the defendant he would send her to prison if she breached the sentence or committed another crime, adding: "I don't give second chances. I think I'm giving you a real chance today."