Rabbi cleared of supplying cocaine faces rehab

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish

The rabbi standing trial for supplying cocaine at a lavish party for rich doctors, businessmen and prostitutes has been cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown Court.

Baruch Chalomish, 54, escaped a lengthy prison sentence and was given unconditional bail. It was indicated by the judge that he would face an order to attend narcotic rehabilitation organised by the strictly Orthodox Jewish community when he reappears for sentencing on December 17.

Rabbi Chalomish was found guilty of possessing 100g of cocaine for personal use at his home in the midst of Salford's Jewish community and at the apartment hotel party venue where he was arrested in January.

The Israeli-born millionaire property dealer and a former minister in Glasgow 30 years ago, cried in the dock when the verdict was read out.

After the trial Chalomish’s defence barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC, said: “My client is too emotional to speak but he is grateful to the jury for their verdicts vindicating that he was only a cocaine user and never a supplier. He now hopes the shame and degradation he has suffered will serve as an example to others to shun drugs."

Judge Michael Henshell said it was an "extraordinary" case, and told the jury it was Chalomish's co-defendent, Nasir Abbas, who was the "leading player in the drug parties."

Mr Abbas was found guilty of drug dealing in his absence after evading his trial. He received an immediate prison sentence of six years and is being sought by police.

The jury rejected the prosecution’s case that stashes totalling 100g of extremely high-grade cocaine and over £15,000 in cash found in Rabbi Chalomish's home proved he had used his wealth to finance convicted drug dealer Abbas to procure drugs.

Jurors failed to accept that the unlikely pair reduced the stash to low-grade cocaine in order to sell or dish out to guests of the 10-day drug-binge part. Participants were alleged to have included call girls, a woman GP, a consultant surgeon and wealthy businessmen.

Last updated: 3:15pm, November 25 2009