Northumbria student caught hiding class A drugs with intent to supply avoids prison time

28-year-old Arjun Tandon transformed his life after his arrest which had brought ‘shame’ on his family

A Northumbria University student who was arrested over possession of class A and class B drugs with intent to supply has avoided prison time.

Arjun Tandon was arrested in September 2021 after police officers stopped his car in Newcastle, finding a stash of drugs hidden in a secret compartment of an aerosol canister as well as in his home.

A delay in testing the recovered drugs meant Tandon couldn’t appear in court until December 2023, where he was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, as well as having to complete 250 hours of unpaid work, ChronicleLive reports.

Police officers on patrol in Newcastle pulled over Tandon’s Audi A3, recognising that number plate as belonging to a vehicle that had been driven suspiciously in the same area.

Omar Ahmed, prosecuting, explained that police had stopped Tandon’s car after it was spotted driving suspiciously in Heaton two nights in a row. He said: “Police officers were on patrol in Newcastle when their attention was drawn to an Audi A3. the officers recognised that plate as belonging to a vehicle that had been driven suspiciously in the same area.

“The Audi was eventually stopped on Chillingham Road. The vehicle was searched during which a canister was recovered. It contained a hidden compartment with various bags of drugs.”

Police also found two phones in the car, one of which was an iPhone and another which looked to be a burner phone

Tandon, of Debdon Garden’s in Heaton, told officers that he had ketamine in his bedroom at home, where police later recovered 10 bags of MDMA, nine bags of cocaine, 17 bags of ketamine and 18 bags of cannabis.

The court heard how messages sent from Tandon’s phone advertising drugs were also discovered.

Mr Ahmed said: “One of the phones seized was described as a burner phone. There were around 30 messages on the phone between September 17 and 20. All drugs related messages.”

In significant debt at the time of the offences, Tandon pleaded guilty to two offences of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply and two of possessing class B drugs with intent to supply.

Rachel Hedworth, mitigating, told the court how Tandon had become addicted to drugs and in a lot of debt whilst studying at Northumbria University.

She explained: “Over the course of his degree he took out lots of different student loans, but there came a point in time when he wasn’t able to take out any further loans. He had a drug addiction himself. In order to pay he got involved in this dealing.”

Ms Hedworth further described how 28-year-old Tandon’s life had completely changed since the offences when he was a student, explaining how he is now working as a fibre-optic engineer and works additionally delivering food in the evenings to support his family.

She added how Tandon had become the sole provider for his family following his father’s diagnosis with a brain tumour.

Ms Hedworth said:  “He is incredibly sorry about what he did. Looking back now this offending took place towards the end of his time at university. His life has dramatically changed since that time.

“His father became incredibly unwell since that time. Arjun has very much stepped up and taken on the role of acting as the main bread winner. He is incredibly remorseful abut this offending. He feels he’s brought a huge amount of shame to his family.

“In the last two and a half years he has completely turned his life around. He’s done everything he possibly can to try and put things right.”

Tandon was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years. Recorder Toby Hedworth QC said: “I have listened to the change that has been taking place in your life since these offences. No one could fail to be impressed by the steps you have taken.

“However, the courts have got to make it clear to those that deal drugs to others that that sort of behaviour cannot be overlooked.”