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‘Hippy crack’ laughing gas dealer is jailed for 35 months after first conviction of its type in the UK


A ‘hippy crack’ laughing gas dealer has been jailed for 35 months in what is believed to be the first conviction of its type in the UK.

Thomas Salton, 30, was arrested when he was pulled over by police in Southernhay, Basildon, for having no car insurance on December 1.

But officers found him with £38,000 in cash, ketamine and nitrous oxide canisters – also known as ‘hippy crack’. 

Police said that Salton was in midst of a plan to supply a Christmas party with these substances. Amongst the seized items was a ‘Naughty and Nice’ list of customers who wanted party bags with drugs in and those who did not. 

Salton was arrested and taken into custody before warrants on addresses in Brentwood and Vange led to the discovery of further Class A and B drugs and hundreds more nitrous oxide cannisters.

At Basildon Crown Court on January 8, he admitted possession with intent to supply controlled drugs at Class B and C.

He denied possession with intent to supply a controlled drug at Class A, instead admitting to a simple possession charge. He also admitted possessing criminal property.

Today, he was sentenced to 35 months in jail in a landmark conviction. 

'Hippy crack' laughing gas dealer Thomas Salton has been jailed for 35 months in what is the first conviction of its type in the UK

‘Hippy crack’ laughing gas dealer Thomas Salton has been jailed for 35 months in what is the first conviction of its type in the UK

DS Stephen Robson said: ‘Our investigation placed Salton in the midst of large-scale supply to customers within the party scene in Essex. He was found to be holding large quantities of Class B and Class C drugs separated for supply purposes. 

‘Our later enquiries at his business lockup demonstrated the preparation behind this operation, with large quantities of illicit drugs stored for later packaging and supply in smaller quantities. 

‘This was clearly an organised operation, with Salton even going to the lengths of drafting a non-disclosure agreement for his customers to sign. 

‘This level of detail and organisation provided us with exactly the evidence we needed to prove his role in an illicit drug supply operation. It is perhaps easy for people to think that consuming these drugs at a party is harmless. 

‘In reality it is this market which lies behind the serious violence and exploitation of vulnerable people which goes hand-in-hand with illegal drug supply.’ 

Last November, nitrous oxide was classified as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Under the legislation, users could face up to two years in prison for possession, while those convicted of supply could face up to 14 years.

Last November, nitrous oxide was classified as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (file image)

Last November, nitrous oxide was classified as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (file image)

Speaking previously on the law change, head of specialist operations Superintendent Philip Stinger said: ‘We have welcomed the introduction of this new law, as it will give us as officers more options when dealing with the anti-social behaviour so often associated with the use and supply of nitrous oxide as a recreational substance.

‘This means a proportionate approach to tackling those found in possession of nitrous oxide cannisters, including explaining the change in law and encouraging people not to use or buy the substance.

‘But where we are dealing with a larger number of cannisters, it is right we take robust and swift action and put this new legislation to use.

‘The use of nitrous oxide in public spaces is a nuisance to communities and has been shown to pose a considerable health risk.’





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