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Christmas “party planner” jailed in first laughing gas drug conviction

|News, Drug offences

A drug dealer who was caught red-handed with party bags containing cannisters of laughing gas alongside balloons and candy canes has become the first person to be jailed for possession of the class C drug since it was outlawed by the Home Office.

Thomas Salton, 30, from Brentwood in Essex was found with about 60 small cannisters of nitrous oxide known as ‘laughing gas’, 48 one-gram bags of ketamine, and £39,000 in cash when police pulled his Range Rover over on 1 December 2023. 

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.

Also, in the car was a “naughty” and “nice” list of customers. Those on the naughty list would receive a gift bags with drugs and be required to sign a non-closure document. 


He pleaded guilty to drug possession with intent to supply at a hearing last month and was sentenced today to a total of 35 months in prison at Basildon Crown Court.

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.”

The ketamine was divided into one-gram bags marked with a “K” and put inside the Christmas party bags along with two cannisters of nitrous oxide.

At the sentencing the CPS said it would begin legal proceedings to recover any money Salton had obtained from his crime.

In November 2023, nitrous oxide was classified as a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Notes to editors

  • Thomas Salton (Dob 8/12/1993) pleaded guilty to the following counts at a hearing at Southend Crown Court on 8 January:
  • Possession of a Class B drug (Ketamine) with intent, contrary to section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Sentenced to 35 months imprisonment.
  • Possession of a Class C drug (nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”) with intent, contrary to section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Sentenced to four months imprisonment, concurrent.
  • Possessing criminal property (£38,955 in cash), contrary to section 329 (1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Sentenced to 18-months imprisonment, concurrent.
  • He denied a further count of possessing a class A drug with intent but pleaded guilty to a simple possession charge. Sentenced to six months imprisonment, concurrent.
  • Alex Hinds is a Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS East of England.

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