Feb 21 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
A FORMER Burscough striker jailed after he was caught with £160,000 worth of cocaine lost an appeal against his sentence.
Michael Branch, 34, who had a spell with the Linnets in 2010 after a career spanning Everton, Wolves, Birmingham City and Manchester City, was sentenced to seven years in jail at Chester Crown Court last November.
The former England under-21 international, of Bempton Road, Aigburth, admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply, and supply of amphetamine.
Dismissing his Court of Appeal bid for a cut in his sentence yesterday, three senior judges said Branch deserved all that he got.
His barrister, Peter Killen, told the court Branch had been a professional footballer, but developed a gambling problem, began drinking heavily and fell into debt.
On March 16 last year, he was seen meeting another man in the car park of the Childwall Fiveways pub and handing over a carrier bag.
The man was stopped by police, who found three kilograms of amphetamine inside. If divided into street deal quantities, it 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% pure cocaine.
Branch said he had agreed to deliver the amphetamine in return for £300 to help pay towards his debts. He claimed when it was lost, he was threatened into storing the cocaine.
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.
The appeal was dismissed.