Spitting in a woman’s face in the street cost drug dealer Gary Cornwall a lengthy prison term.
The “horrible” act late at night triggered a chain of events which led to the 25-year-old being jailed for almost five years.
During the city centre row he followed up by lashing out at the woman’s friend as she tried to intervene.
And when police tracked Cornwall down from witnesses and CCTV they found a drugs haul with a street value of up to £8,000 in his house, together with an illegal pepper spray.
Yet when he appeared before a court in Preston, a judge heard the events which spiralled out of control that night had begun as a simple case of mistaken identity.
Jailing him for a total of four years nine months Recorder Simon Berkson told him: “To spit in someone’s face is a horrible thing to do and it was the catalyst for what occurred thereafter.”
The court heard the two young women had left the Assembly pub and were sitting on a bench waiting for a taxi when Cornwall began an argument with one of them, thinking she was someone else. After spitting in her face he punched her friend on the side of the mouth, breaking a tooth, and then ran off.
A passerby identified Cornwall and police visited his home in Romford Road, Preston where they uncovered a quantity of cocaine, with a purity of 63 per cent and valued at £3,388, in an Armani jacket. They also found cannabis worth between £2,260 and £4,520.
A mobile phone showed evidence of drug dealing. They also found some drug weighing scales. An American pepper spray, which is a prohibited weapon in the UK, was also discovered in a bedroom.
On a second visit to the house, following reports of a domestic incident, police found around £3,000 in cash in a Hugo Boss bag.
Hanifa Patel, prosecuting, said when questioned Cornwall denied the assaults, but admitted the drugs were his, bought from Bolton for his own personal use. He claimed to be looking after the cash for a friend.
Daniel Prowse, defending, said the offences were due to Cornwall’s addiction to and use of cocaine. He had become involved in the movement of drugs in an attempt to repay a debt he owed a dealer.
Cornwall was sent to prison for a month for common assault (spitting), eight months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a total of four years for the drugs and pepper spray offences.