Published: 09:00, 11 February 2019
| Updated: 11:49, 12 February 2019
A "pernicious" county lines drug dealer had eight months knocked off his jail sentence - for writing a grovelling apology letter.
Musician Lamar Blackstock was collared by police with a stash of heroin and cocaine in his car, and a lock-knife.
The 27-year-old was caught in "a car from Croydon" with £780 in cash and class A drugs prepared "for sale in wraps", in Strood, last summer.
Police pulled Blackstock over on June 8 as he drove the rental car throughout Kent to move the pre-prepared drugs.
Judge Phillip Statman said that the case "was one of street dealing" with a clear "financial motivation".
He said: "This is a case of street dealing - you were stopped by police in a hired vehicle that associated itself with Croydon.
"You were stopped in Strood, you come from London, concealed in the central consul of the car were drugs and a knife.
"The drugs within the vehicle are consistent with street dealing packaged into the way of deals, an amount of eight grams."
Blackstock changed his plea to guilty on January 29, and admitted two counts of possession with intent and one count of having a knife in a public place.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the dealer had an addiction to morphine, which "left him vulnerable to coercion".
It was claimed that senior county lines dealers took advantage of this and persuaded Blackstock to sell drugs in Kent.
The court heard that Blackstock has a history of gang-related charges, including a 2009 conviction for possession with intent to supply.
He was caught with a knife twice, including once when he was just 14-year-old - and he was arrested in relation to kidnapping and drugs in 2017.
Defending, Arlette Piercy said that Blackstock had "stumbled spectacularly" after a spell of what she termed 'good behaviour'.
She said: "He has come today with quiet resignation.
"He listened to advice and has taken positive steps since then.
"There was an element of anger and resentment - over a factor of undetermined DNA on the drugs.
"He has found it hard to accept his culpability. He was struggling to come to terms with his own drug problems.
"My client's luck has run out in relation to his previous suspended sentences, in which he has cooperated."
"I bear in mind your genuine remorse... I will take away eight months of your sentence for letters and counselling" - Judge Phillip Statman
Blackstock appeared in the dock in a full grey sports tracksuit and nodded his head as the judge heard his mitigation.
Ms Piercy said the "prevalence of county lines in the press" should not affect the way Blackstock was sentenced.
She said: "The fact that it is county lines reflects the way drug dealing has developed - it is not a defining feature.
"You do not have to come here often to see how much of a problem there is with county lines dealing."
The court heard how Blackstock attended rehabilitation classes, focused on his music and wrote a letter of apology to the judge.
Judge Statman gave the dealer 10 minutes with his family before his "inevitable custodial sentence".
He said: "Drug supply is prevalent and raises issues that on county lines.
"This can be an emotive expression for understandable reasons.
"In regards to the background, I respect that you have a history of addiction, you are vulnerable, you are from a working family.
"The pressure is put on from those above you in the train to pay them back, no doubt a bit is left on the side to feed your addiction.
"Passing away from your individual circumstances, you know just how pernicious this drug dealing is - it draws in people like you.
"You are a man of some intelligence and you quite clearly have some gifts, particular your music ability, they go to your credit.
"You have sought persistence with your addiction, namely morphine, but these offences well and truly pass the custody threshold."
The judge told the court that the maximum possible sentence for the crimes committed could be up to seven years.
He said: "I bear in mind your genuine remorse.
"I will take away eight months of your sentence for letters and counselling."
Blackstock was jailed for 40 months for the drug charges, with an additional six months for the knife, to be served concurrently.
The dealer, from Thamesmead, south east London, blew a kiss to the public gallery as he was jailed.