Cocaine dealer arrested after crashing into tree during police chase

A cocaine dealer has been arrested after his car crashed into a tree as he tried to flee from police.

When officers searched Tomas Francombe’s vehicle – which displayed fake number plates – they found £1,000 worth of Class A drugs. It was the second time in just two months that police had uncovered cases of cocaine in a vehicle driven by the 34-year-old man.

The case was part of a string of offenses committed by the former gas fitter who also saw him steal thousands of pounds worth of tools taken from an MoT garage in a ‘robbed’ burglary on command”, and try to steal a set of traffic lights.

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Cardiff Crown Court heard Francombe was involved in a high-speed chase through Blackwood and Ystrad Mynach on October 27 last year, in which he drove on a kerb to avoid a deflation device stinger tires and took the wrong direction around a roundabout. Ieaun Rees, prosecuting, said the pursuit ended when the driver lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree. When police examined the car they found 14 bags of cocaine with a street value of £1,060 while the car itself bore fake number plates. A review of the defendant’s phone revealed a so-called ‘checklist’ of sums owed as well as messages relating to the sale and purchase of coke over the previous five months.

The prosecutor said that for two months police found an additional £1,000 worth of cocaine in a car driven by Francombe after stopping a BMW which was driving “erratically” in Pontypool. On this occasion, Francombe fled from the Beamer on foot but was pursued and caught. In the BMW, which had fake plates, were bags of cocaine with a street value of just over £1,000. Read about the heroin smuggler dad seen by police making a deal from his car who claimed he was only selling cigarettes.

The court heard that Francombe was also responsible for two burglaries in Abertillery which took place on February 26, 2020. One of the raids took place at a house in Princess Street which was being renovated – after breaking down, Francombe stole tools worth around £6,000. . The second raid, on the MoT center at Abertillery the same night, saw tools worth £13,500 stolen and Mr Rees said given the specialist nature of the equipment taken it appeared they had been “stolen on order”. The accused was arrested a month later after he and another man were spotted by police trying to load a set of temporary traffic lights onto an Ifor Williams trailer. He was later linked to the February burglaries through DNA evidence and analysis of mobile phone site data.

Tomas Owen Francombe, of Blaendare Road, Pontypool, previously pleaded guilty to being involved in the supply of cocaine, two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of criminal property – £470 cash with which he was found – two counts of fraudulent use of a registration mark, dangerous driving, two counts of non-residential burglary and attempted theft when he showed up in the dock to be sentenced. He has three prior convictions for three offences, including cannabis trafficking in 2016.

Richard Ace, for Francombe, said the accused was a former gas fitter who worked hard for many years before falling on “emotionally difficult times at home”. He said that in 2016 his client’s relationship with his partner broke down after the birth of their child and his recreational cocaine use became an addiction. The lawyer said drug and alcohol abuse and losing his job just before the Covid pandemic hit led to the defendant committing an offence, and he said Francombe felt remorse for what had happened and acknowledged the impact of his actions on his family.

Judge Neil Bidder QC described Francombe as a ‘cocaine retailer’ and said he had been driving at excessive speeds in an attempt to evade police when he crashed. With discounts for his guilty pleas, Francombe was sentenced to a total of four years in prison. He will serve up to half of that time in custody before being released on license to serve the rest in the community. The accused was also banned from driving for 18 months, with the ban being extended for a further two years to cover the time he will be behind bars. Francombe will have to pass an extended driving test before he can get his license back.

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