A judge has ruled that a new iPhone seized from a Carlisle drug dealer can be returned to him – but only if it is wiped and reset by police.
City addict Malcolm John Nicholson was busted after leaving his Hawick Street home on 27th November. Officers who saw Nicholson behaving suspiciously stopped and searched him, finding two separate one-ounce bags of heroin potentially worth almost £3,000.
A further five-and-a-half ounces of the class A drug, which could have fetched nearly £8,000 if sold on the street, were recovered from his home. Three mobile phones – two Nokia devices and a rose gold iPhone 8 – were also seized.
Heavily-convicted Nicholson, 35, later pleaded guilty to possessing heroin with intent to supply, and in January was jailed for 32 months at Carlisle Crown Court.
But his case was brought back before the sentencing judge, Recorder Neville Biddle, this morning (WED). It had emerged no order for forfeiture and destruction of the three phones had been sought at the January hearing as it should have been. None of the devices had been examined by police view of Nicholson’s prompt admissions, meaning the content was unknown.
But appearing over a video link from custody, Nicholson made clear his wish to have the iPhone returned. “It was just new. I just bought it,” he said, responding to suggestions of possible incriminating evidence being on the device by adding: “There is nothing on it.”
His barrister, Kate Barnes, submitted the iPhone could be reset to ensure all previous information was erased and returned to him in its original format. Nicholson even gave the prosecution his passcode to ensure police could carry out that procedure before a family member was authorised to collect the phone on his behalf.
Recorder Biddle ordered the forfeiture of the two Nokias, but gave the green light for the iPhone to be returned – subject to the reset being successfully completed. “I think it is not an unreasonable request from Mr Nicholson,” the judge observed.