Drug dealer first to be jailed for possessing laughing gas after ‘party bags’ found in car

Thomas Salton, 30, had gift boxes for customers which included nitrous oxide, ketamine, balloons and candy canes

Eleanor Barlow
Monday 19 February 2024 12:49 GMT
A view of canisters of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, discarded by the side of a road (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A view of canisters of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, discarded by the side of a road (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

A drug dealer caught with “party bags” containing canisters of laughing gas has become the first person to be jailed for possessing the drug since it was outlawed, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Thomas Salton, 30, from Brentwood in Essex, had gift boxes for customers which included the nitrous oxide, banned by the Government in November 2023, along with ketamine, balloons and candy canes.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Salton was found with 60 small canisters of the Class C drug, 48 one-gram bags of ketamine and £39,000 in cash when police pulled over his Range Rover on December 1 last year.

Also, in the car was a “naughty” and “nice” list of customers, with gift bags for those on the naughty list, the CPS said.

A further 408 nitrous oxide cannisters and 965 grams of ketamine were later found at a property Salton was renting 10 miles from his home.

The CPS spokesman said Salton was sentenced to 35 months in prison at Basildon Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to possessing nitrous oxide with intent to supply at a hearing last month.

He also admitted possessing ketamine with intent to supply, possession of a class A drug and possessing criminal property, in relation to the cash, according to the CPS.

Alex Hinds, a prosecutor for CPS East of England, said: “The evidence against Thomas Salton was overwhelming and this case is an example of all parts of the justice system working together to get drugs and those who sell them off the streets.

“The change in the law coupled with the actions of the police has allowed the CPS to present the strongest case in court and put Thomas Salton out of business and into prison.

“Nitrous oxide is a dangerous drug and hopefully this first conviction will deter those thinking of buying or selling it.”

Nitrous oxide, nicknamed “hippy crack”, was made a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 last November, as part of the Government’s anti-social behaviour action plan.

This means possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it for a psychoactive effect, is now an offence and dealers could face up to 14 years behind bars.

It is still possible to use the gas for legitimate reasons, such as catering, pain relief during labour or in model rockets.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in