Dozens of alleged drug dealers appear in court after undercover police operation
A 17-year-old from Great Witchingham who appeared in court charged with multiple drug offences without legal representation has been bailed back to Norfolk.
The youth faced charges relating to drug dealing under Operation Granary, an undercover operation conducted around Norwich over the course of seven months.
He was one of more than 30 alleged drug dealers who have come before Norwich Crown Court in the last two days. 29 of the 36 defendants did not have a barrister despite being granted legal aid, and only nine have entered pleas.
As part of a strike action in protest against Ministry of Justice cuts, the Criminal Bar Association has asked members to refuse new legal aid cases.
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.
The 17-year-old, 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.
Judge Anthony Bate set aside listings on June 6 and 27 to bring the remaining cases back to court.
He told each of the accused: “You all have legal aid since April 1, entitling you to a solicitor and legal representation at public expense.
“Your solicitors at the moment can’t find an advocate to represent you in court and advise you in conference. We await a national solution and must do our best to progress these cases as far as we can and be fair to both sides.”
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