More than 20 drug dealers prosecuted after complaints from residents

|News, Drug offences

More than 20 drug dealers have successfully been prosecuted as a result of a police investigation which followed complaints about drug dealing from local residents in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. 

Residents in Columbia Road who teamed up with artists and called themselves the Columbia Road Cartel, put up parody artwork road signs to draw attention to the issue and highlight the impact of crime in the boroughs.

Signs put up in September 2018, which looked like legitimate road signs, said ‘Give way to oncoming drug dealers,’ ‘Needle free zone’ and ‘crack pick-up point’. Parking bays were also marked ‘drug dealers only’.

The police investigation identified four separate drugs phone lines being used to deal a range of drugs including class A drugs in the area. Four separate prosecutions took place, one in relation to each drugs line.

On Friday, 15 November and Monday, 18 November those involved in the fourth and final prosecution were to be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Defendants: Julian Haynes, Luke Gratton, Brendan Vickers, Kevin Tighe, Kenneth Gratton, Craig Furlong, Rukon Ahmed, Dilraj Miah
Defendants L-R: Julian Haynes, Luke Gratton, Brendan Vickers, Kevin Tighe,
Kenneth Gratton, Craig Furlong, Rukon Ahmed, Dilraj Miah
  • Julian Haynes, 33, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
  • Luke Gratton, 30, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
  • Brendan Vickers, 26, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and two counts of possessing a controlled Class A drug with intent. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • Craig Furlong, 31, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He had his sentencing date deferred to 3 April 2020.
  • Rukon Ahmed, 29, from Forest Gate in Newham pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and two counts of possessing a controlled Class A drug with intent. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
  • Dilraj Miah, 29, from Spitalfields in Tower Hamlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • Kevin Tighe, 49, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs after a trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years.
  • Kenneth Gratton, 56, from Bow in Tower Hamlets was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs following a trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years.

The drugs line used a pre-paid and unregistered phone line which peaked in activity between 5pm and 2am with most calls being under 20 seconds - consistent with those calling to order drugs being told where to meet dealers. 

Drugs found on Vickers’ living room table
Drugs found on Vickers’ living room table

The group were arrested on 14 February 2019. Vickers was arrested at his home address where police officers found 100 wraps of crack cocaine and heroin on his living room table. Gratton was found to have £1,000 in his bed.

Jonathan Shepherd, from the CPS, said: “Dealing drugs such as heroin can have devastating consequences for vulnerable people and local communities. These defendants showed little consideration for those around them - often openly dealing drugs in the day in front of young children and encouraging aggressive drug users to loiter in the area.

“The different phone lines represented a coordinated effort between various drugs operations to work together to deal dangerous drugs, in effect blighting the local community to such an extent that they felt they had to take action.

“These prosecutions aimed to take down the operational and managerial functions of these organised drug dealing groups, in order to reduce anti-social behaviour for this affected community.

“These successful prosecutions show that that the CPS takes drug dealing extremely seriously and will bring offenders to court to face justice.”

Other prosecutions

Shem Roberts, 26, from Hackney, who was involved in running a drugs line was sentenced to 32 months in jail in October. Co-defendant Abdul Khan, 19, from Bow in Tower Hamlets received 40 months in a young offender’s institute. Nasir Ahmed, 21, from Stepney Green in Tower Hamlets, is still awaiting sentence.

Those involved in running another drugs line all pleaded guilty to drugs charges and were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court in June 2019. Abdul Goni, 26, from Bow in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 42 months. Rob Goni, 32, from Bethnal Green in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 39 months. Zack Sullivan, 26, from Poplar in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 36 months. Paul Burnett, 28, from Dagenham was sentenced to 36 months. Danny Rockman, 34, from Newmarket in Suffolk was sentenced to 41 months. Niamot Hussain, 19, from East Ham in Newham was sentenced to 39 months.

Defendants involved in running a further drugs line pleaded guilty and were sentenced in September 2019 at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Abdul Koyes, 31, from Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 36 months. Rezwanul Choudhury, 23, from Limehouse in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 48 months. Abu Sherwan Choudhury, 24, from Dagenham was sentenced to 48 months. Akbar Hussain, 29, from Spitalfields in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 45 months. Iqbal Miah, 18, from Bow in Tower Hamlets was sentenced to 18 months in jail suspended for 18 months. Charles Morris, 51, from Hackney was sentenced to 36 months.

Notes to editors

  • Jonathan Shepherd is a Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS London North.

Further reading