Drug dealer walks free from court for his 145th offence
- Credit: Archant
A gang of drug dealers including an addict convicted of more than 140 crimes walked free from court yesterday after a judge chose not to risk their progress battling addictions by sending them to prison.
Rachel Harrison, Kelly Hale, Trayan Henney, Ryan Barnes and Barry Turner, all from Great Yarmouth, were part of the Chase Two county line drug gang which dealt £140,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin in the town last year.
All five pleaded guilty and were given two year sentences suspended for two years by Mr Recorder Hardy at Norwich Crown Court.
Harrison, 21, was the girlfriend of gang kingpin Damien Laverick, who was sentenced to eight years earlier this month. Prosecutors explained he brought the Chase line ‘back from the dead’ just days after he was released from prison in January 2020.
Yesterday the court heard Harrison acted as a driver for taxi services and resupply for Laverick, who was disqualified from driving, and that texts on her phone revealed she was involved in bagging and packaging the drugs for sale.
Mr Hardy said that her role in her boyfriend’s conspiracy had been “more than a lesser role though perhaps less than a significant role, a hinterland somewhere between the two”, but added there was “significant personal mitigation”
He said: “You are a lady of previous good character, you were 19, naïve, vulnerable, immature, and suddenly let on the loose by your association with Laverick.”
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He said her efforts “detoxifying” herself constituted “a very significant achievement indeed” adding that he was left considering “whether I should put at risk everything you’ve achieved by sending you directly to prison.”
He handed down a two year sentence for each of the two counts - of distributing heroin and cocaine - suspended for two years and instructed her to attend rehabilitation.
During Laverick’s sentencing earlier this month the court heard how he and his lieutenants used the town’s community of heroin and crack addicts as runners and street dealers in their conspiracy.
One such was Barry Turner, 50, who has 43 previous convictions for 144 previous offences, including 76 for theft.
Sentencing Mr Hardy told Turner: “You are not young and you have a terrible record.
“But it seems to me that nonetheless it would be unfair of me to visit that record on you and that age on you with an immediate custodial sentence when there does seem to be some prospect through CGL [addiction charity Change Grow Live] that you are being weaned off your terrible addiction.”
He pointed to the ten years since Turner’s last conviction and handed down a suspended sentence.
Based on drugs found and bulk texts sent, police and prosecutors estimate the gang distributed between 800g and 1200g of Class A drugs between January 6 and April 2, with a street value of between £80,000 and £144,000.
The conspiracy was quickly uncovered by Great Yarmouth police using intelligence gathered from mobile phone data, and following a series of arrests in early February the town’s plain clothes Neighbourhood Policing Team started closing in on kingpin Lavery who was arrested and taken into custody on April 1.
Prosecutors explained how Trayan Henney, 21, and Ryan Barnes, 19, had run drugs for the line, with Jude Durr for the Crown explaining Henney was “more than a runner, he was CFO” by the later stages of the three-month conspiracy.
In mitigation his lawyer Mr Goodman told the court that Henney had no previous convictions and had become “enmeshed and ensnared by others, some of whom are serious criminals.”
Barnes was in the car pulled over by the police near the Thickthorn roundabout on March 30 last year, in an arrest which yielded 28g of cocaine, 14g of heroin, and a mobile phone with the number of the Chase county line.
A “county line”, is the police term for a phone number known to addicts, which is run by a criminal gang who source drugs in a major city and import them into regional towns and cities.
The judge told the pair: “You are stupid, impressionable, young, naïve, and immature. But not wicked.”
He said they were lured by the “bright lights” being made available to them and noted that they were responding well to supervision.
Kelly Hale, 36, was also given a two year suspended sentence and rehab order.
Mr Hardy said: “You are well acquainted with the ghastly effects Class drugs can have upon people and yet in order to support your own addiction you inflicted those ghastly effects upon others by supplying them with drugs.”