Six Scarborough drug dealers have been jailed after being snared by an undercover police sting, with the men captured on camera peddling heroin and cocaine.
Officers snared the dealers after that embedded themselves in the criminal underworld, posing as drug users and asking the heroin addicts to fix them up with deals.
Five of the dealers - David O’Neill, 33, Michael Jowett-Hall, 45, Kenneth Atkinson, 44, Luke Clayton, 33, and David Frank, 36, all from Scarborough - duly obliged, providing police with incontrovertible evidence of heroin dealing.
Two other men - Arron Lewis, 24, from Liverpool, and Christopher Watt, 31, from Scarborough – were nailed in a separate operation which traced the drug-supply chain back to Merseyside.
“The successful prosecution of these offenders demonstrates North Yorkshire Police’s sheer determination to tackle the scourge of drugs which can blight entire communities,” said Detective Constable Tom Hoban, of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit.
York Crown Court heard that during a search of Watt’s flat in Scarborough, police found £7,000 of cocaine and heroin. They also found £690 in cash on him.
There has been a significant escalation in Class A drug-dealing in Scarborough
Eleven people in total were arrested and charged with various offences in connection with the supply of heroin or cocaine.
Seven of them appeared at York Crown Court on Wednesday after admitting the offences at previous hearings.
Prosecutor David Bradshaw said that during the sting, from July to October last year, one of the undercover officers would be sent to buy drugs using a hidden camera and audio machine to gather evidence.
The dealers would then either contact a supplier, take the officer to meet up with a contact or hand the drugs over themselves.
O’Neill, of Billow Drive, Scarborough, fell into this trap on six separate occasions.
He admitted two counts of possessing heroin with intent to supply, six counts of supplying heroin and one count of possession.
Jowett-Hall, of Queens Terrace, admitted one count of supplying heroin.
Frank, of Manham Hill, Eastfield, admitted three counts of supplying heroin. Atkinson, of Wooler Street, admitted one count of heroin supply.
Clayton, of Westborough, pleaded guilty to one count of supplying heroin, and Watt, of Gildercliffe, admitted six drug-supply offences between November 2014 and January this year, including two counts of being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine, possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, and supplying drugs to an undercover officer in September last year.
He also admitted burgling a house on Prospect Road, Scarborough, in August last year, when, due to his hopelessly drugged-up state, he nodded off while rifling through the property.
When the occupants came downstairs, they found him asleep and called police, who took the unconscious burglar to hospital and later arrested him.
Lewis, of Grafton Street, Liverpool, admitted similar drug offences after police traced a mobile phone used in the drug trade back to Merseyside.
Defence barrister Taryn Turner said all the defendants had long-standing drug problems and were heavily convicted, but added that they had been dealing under orders from big narcotics men and selling mainly to fund their own addictions.
However, judge Stephen Ashurst said they had each played a part in the proliferation of heroin in Scarborough.
“In the eight years I have been sitting at York Crown Court, there has been a significant escalation in Class A drug-dealing in Scarborough,” he said.
“This has had a huge impact on the town itself and fuelled not only acquisitive crime, but also violence, misery and ruined lives.”
O’Neill was jailed for four-and-a-half years. Watt was jailed for four years for the drug offences and the burglary.
Jowett-Hall, Atkinson and Clayton were each jailed for 18 months. Frank was sentenced to 21 months behind bars.
Mr Ashurst adjourned Lewis’s sentence to give the Probation Service time to compile a report on him.
An eighth man, Sean Lee Malee, 30, of Eastfield, did not turn up for sentence and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Another of the men arrested last year has since died.
Speaking after the sentencing, DC Hoban added: “We have shown that we simply will not tolerate this blatant criminal behaviour in Scarborough and North Yorkshire as a whole.”
And he urged residents to continue reporting suspected drug dealing or related activity to the police or pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously.
He said: “Our communities often have valuable information which can help us track down drug dealers and I urge them to keep sharing it with us.
“Suspicious behaviour can include lots of comings and goings at a particular address in your street or noticing people seemingly living beyond their means.
“If you believe something is not right we urge you to share it with us so we can build intelligence and take action.”
If you have any information please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101