Thirty seven people sentenced in connection with violent drugs trade in Cheshire

|News, Violent crime , Drug offences

Thirty seven people have been sentenced to a total of more than 180 years' imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court following an operation to crack down on a violent and damaging Class A drugs trade in Cheshire.

The court heard that the gangs operated out of Liverpool and took drugs into Widnes mainly, but also Northwich and Exeter. Key phones back in Liverpool would be used by the leading members to organise the dealers on the streets.

The gangs sometimes used local people to sell the drugs and also coerced vulnerable local people into letting them use their homes as bases to ply their trade - a practice known as “cuckoo-ing”.

When they arrived in an area, the dealers would send out “flares” to local users - text messages telling them that they had drugs to sell.

The gangs were dealing in hundreds of thousands of pounds of Class A drugs such as heroin and crack. One of the dealers had a quote on his Facebook profile - “Money is the Motivation.”

Some of the dealers had young children with them when they completed the deals and the court heard that they also used a vulnerable 14 year old girl to sell the drugs on occasion.

The dealers maintained their hold over the communities they moved into by fear and intimidation.

The gangs' activities were traced using undercover police officers, mobile phone cell siting, surveillance and tracking the cars of known dealers. It was a lengthy investigation, with much of the surveillance taking place in the summer of 2017.

James Allison of the Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with Cheshire Police over months to bring this prosecution to court.

On sentencing, he said: "These substantial sentences bring to an end the increasingly violent and dangerous drugs trade operated by these people.

“The tactics they used are well known; they bring drugs from a large city into small towns and then coerce vulnerable and intimidated locals to help them ply their trade.

“It’s a nasty, vicious and destructive business that causes misery for the people who get caught up in it and the innocent bystanders who live in the areas they move into.

“The dealers often “cuckoo-ed” the homes of vulnerable local people, intimidating them into letting them use their homes as bases for their evil trade. Deals were often struck near a children’s play area and some of the dealers had children with them when they completed a deal.

"These people don’t think they have to abide by the rules and regulations that the rest of us do. But they’re wrong and a day like today shows that they can only get away with it for so long.

“Cheshire Police  and the Crown Prosecution Service worked together for months on this and the strength of the case is proven by the fact that so many of them pleaded guilty with just one insisting on her innocence. Now she has been found guilty and they are all facing the consequences.”

Notes to editors

  • James Allison is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service

Defendants and sentences

  • Graham Ashe: 9 years 9 months
  • Marney Styles: 3 yrs 6 months
  • Darren O’Brien: 3 yrs 8 months
  • Stephen Dow: 22 months
  • Jordan Swinnerton: 9 yrs 1 month
  • Jack Storey: 7 yrs 8 months
  • John Hargreaves: 10 yrs 6 months
  • Dylan Swinnerton: 10 yrs 6 months
  • Michael Price: 7 yrs 4 months
  • Kieron McArthur: 4 yrs 6 months
  • Joel Evans: 8 yrs 6 months
  • Leanne Beneke: 2 yrs
  • John Roberts: 2 yrs 6 months
  • Richenda Kane: 6 yrs
  • Gary Fagin: 6 yrs
  • Ryan McLelland: 6 yrs 4 months
  • Sean McClune: 4yrs 6 months
  • Mark Condliffe: 3 yrs 6 months
  • Simon Jones: 5 yrs
  • Philip Harrison: 6 yrs 3 months
  • Alex Hill:  7 years
  • Anne Mills: 12 months' jail suspended for 18 months, 20 days' rehabilitation
  • Danny Chadburn:  2 yrs 3 months
  • Julie Edge: 2 yrs 5 months
  • Stephen O’Connor: 18 months
  • Timothy Allen: 5 yrs 3 months
  • Joshua Quinton: 10 years
  • Tony Monroe: 2 yrs jail, suspended for 18 months, 25 days' rehabilitation
  • Sarah Hall: 18 months
  • David Lomax: 2 yrs 7 months
  • Michael McLelland: 6 yrs 10 months
  • Blaine Megarry: 3 yrs 6 months
  • Stevie Holloway: 7 yrs
  • Paul Jones: 21 months, suspended for 18 months, Rehabilitation 20 days
  • Ian Payne: 3 yrs 4 months
  • Carol Whitby: 3 yrs 4 months
  • McIntyre: 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

Further reading