Cases of 43 accused in undercover drugs operation delayed as barristers refuse legal aid work
PUBLISHED: 15:48 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:48 24 May 2018
During three mornings this week 34 alleged drug dealers have come before a judge with no advocate as barristers refuse to take on new legal aid work in protest against Ministry of Justice cuts.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, 43 people charged with drug dealing came before Norwich Crown Court, including four youths.
They were charged as part of Operation Granary - an undercover police operation targeting Class A drug dealing in Norwich.
Five were represented in court as solicitor Gavin Cowe attended to advise them, and four more had barristers attending.
All others appeared alone. Most chose to wait for full legal advice, and had their cases adjourned to bulk hearings on June 6 or June 27.
They appeared in court alone as the Criminal Bar Association has asked its members to refuse new legal aid cases.
Judger Anthony Bate told them the court is “awaiting a national solution”, and offered each of the accused an opportunity to enter pleas.
12 of the 43 entered guilty pleas under advice from their solicitors.
On Thursday morning Lee Dagless, 29, admitted two counts of supplying heroin and was remanded in custody. Jamie Barnes, 35, admitted one count of supply and was remanded.
Gary Carver, 45, and Jacob Murphy denied a joint charge of conspiracy. Murphy admitted two counts of supply, cocaine and heroin, and Carver admitted supply of heroin. Both were remanded into custody to await sentence.
Andrew Holton and Kenneth McGowan, both 42, opted to wait for full legal advice and had their cases adjourned to June 27.
Judge Bate told them: “In all of these cases the defendants have been granted legal aid since April 1, entitling you to be represented by a solicitor and advocate at public expense.
“No firm has been able to find a barrister willing to take the brief and advise you in conference or represent you in court. Hence you have no advocate in court today.
“If you wish to advance pleas today you can do so and that would help us manage the case. Equally it would help if you want to speak to your lawyers in the hope the national problem is resolved and try to make more progress.
“Solicitors outside court can have discussions - they are unaffected by the current difficulties. It is the court room itself which is the main issue.”
All those who have pleaded guilty will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.
Defendants charged under the banner of Operation Granary appeared in court in groups on separate indictments.
Granita Scales, 38, Jonas Messacki, 23, Dylan Bello, 24, Charlie Moore, 18, and Ocean Todd, 19, are charged jointly on a six-count indictment with a 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons. The youth admitted three counts but denied conspiracy, while Moore admitted possession with intent to supply. The others have had their cases adjourned. Scales, Messacki, Bello and Moore were remanded into custody while Todd was bailed.
Gaffiel Abdullah, 57, Adesola Malomo, 24, Sarah Hodge, 32 and David Rivenburg, 39, are charged together on a four-count indictment. Molomo, of London, admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was remanded into custody.
Abdullah and Riverburg were remanded after their cases were adjourned and Hodge was bailed to a later date.
Bevin Bascombe, who turned 28 on Wednesday, is charged on a five count indictment alongside Ricky Wilson, 45, and Vicky King, 28.
Wilson denied conspiracy with intent to supply and the supply of Class A drugs, and was remanded into custody. Bascombe and King did not enter pleas and were also remanded.
Michael Katindi, 28, of Old Mint Yard, admitted conspiracy but denied the supply of Class A drugs and possession with intent to supply.
Rufin Kongolo, 23, Kelly Cornwell, 41, of Dolphin Grove, Junjs Renins, 34, of Norwich and a 16-year-old from Norwich all had their cases adjourned. Kongolo was remanded into custody while Cornwell and the youth were bailed. Renins refused to appear over video link and his case was adjourned.
A further 17-year-old had his case adjourned and was remanded into the custody of his local authority in London.
On Wednesday morning Yasmin Luparello, 30, Michelle Clarke, 48, Michael Fowler-Nicholson, 24, Connor Griggs, 21, James Dexter, 42, Manley Vidal, 26, and Patrick White, 41, asked for adjournments so they can take legal advice.
Mark Wheatland, 53, denied conspiracy but admitted supplying Class A drugs. Richard Law, 42, admitted two counts of supplying heroin.
Akram Miah, 18, denied conspiracy but admitted four counts of supplying a Class A drug and two counts of possession with intent to supply.
Brendan O’Callaghan, 25, admitted two counts of supplying heroin.
Adrian Read, 47, admitted three counts of supplying Class A drugs including heroin and cocaine. All were remanded into custody to await sentence.
Donovan Gurlay, 52, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, supply of a Class A drug and possession with intent to supply. He was refused bail and remanded into custody.
A 17-year-old facing a 13 count indictment, who cannot be named, was bailed from custody in Kent to return to Norfolk on the condition Norfolk County Council children’s services arranged transport for him.
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