A DRUG dealer who organised the fatal punishment beating of an addict over a £300 debt has had his sentence cut by judges.

Victim Ian Bendall, who was 43, had been working as an underling to dealer Alex Colgan, aged 30, also known as Alex Smith, in June last year, when a batch of drugs went missing.

Colgan, who lived in Ramsay Avenue, Farnworth, organised the brutal beating of Mr Bendall behind Century Mill, in George Street, Farnworth, on June 9 last year.

Mr Bendall, who had suffered seven fractured ribs, died in hospital on June 13 from pneumonia.

Colgan was convicted of murder in January at Manchester Crown Court and jailed for life.

He was ordered to serve at least 27 years behind bars before he could even apply for parole.

But at London's Criminal Appeal Court, Sir Brian Leveson ruled that the sentence was too harsh and cut Colgan's minimum term to 24 years.

He said: "The facts reveal a story of a small-time drug dealer inflicting a punishment beating upon one of his dealers, who had deprived him of some £300 worth of drugs."

Stephen Meadowcroft QC, representing Colgan, argued that a minimum sentence of 27 years was too hard on him, as there had been no intent to kill.

He said: "All cases of murder are tragic and serious but there has to be room for more serious cases to be sentenced.

"I suggest that the sentence of 27 years was simply too high."

Sir Brian, who was sitting with two other senior judges, concluded: "In our judgement there is force in this submission.

"The appropriate minimum term, allowing for the aggravating and mitigating factors, is one of 24 years, rather than 27 years.

"To that extent, this appeal is allowed."