A FORMER Chester City striker who was jailed for possessing about £160,000 worth of cocaine, has failed in his attempt to reduce his sentence.
Paul Michael Branch, 34, who is known by his middle name, was sentenced to seven years’ jail at Chester Crown Court last November after he admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply and supply of amphetamine.
The former England under-21 international, of Bempton Road, Liverpool, had his appeal against the length of his sentence dismissed by three judges at a Court of Appeal hearing yesterday.
Branch made 60 appearances for the Blues between 2004 and 2006, netting 16 times, in a spell dogged by injury and poor form.
After previously turning out for clubs including Everton, Manchester City and Wolves, Branch was signed by the then Chester City manager Mark Wright from Bradford City but was unable to live up to his high billing and left the Deva Stadium in 2006, taking in spells at non-league sides Halifax Town and Burscough, before retiring in 2010.
On March 16 last year he was seen meeting another man in the car park of the Childwall Fiveways pub in Liverpool and handing over a carrier bag.
The man was stopped by police, who found three kilos of amphetamine inside which, in street deal quantities, would have been worth about £28,000.
Branch was not arrested until July 10 last year when police went to his home and found a 976 gram block of 82 per cent pure cocaine, as well as paraphernalia associated with the supply of drugs, including electronic scales, cutting agents, plastic bags and notes relating to the possible importation of drugs from Spain and Holland.
Peter Killen, defending, told the court Branch developed a gambling problem, began drinking heavily and fell into debt.
Mr Killen argued before Judge Kramer, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Globe that the seven-year sentence was “manifestly excessive” and should be cut.
Giving judgment, Judge Kramer said it was clear Branch’s life had “started to crumble” when his gambling addiction led to heavy drinking and debt.
The appeal was dismissed.