Ringleader of a drug peddling gang jailed after being on the run

Sonny Elms who was jailed today.
Sonny Elms who was jailed today.

The ringleader of a Scarborough drugs gang who tried to evade justice by going on the run for six months has finally been jailed today.

Sonny Elms, 25, fled after five members his gang were jailed for a total of almost 20 years, sparking a police manhunt that spanned several force areas before he was found and arrested in his home city of Manchester last month.

He appeared before York Crown Court today and was jailed for nine years and eight months for the original offence of conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin, and also for failing to surrender.

Elms’ gang was convicted following a major North Yorkshire Police investigation, which lasted more than three years, into a network of criminals from outside the county peddling class-A drugs in Scarborough.

Five members of the gang – aged between 19 and 28 and all from the Greater Manchester area – were sentenced at York Crown Court in February. Four pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, namely cocaine, and one admitted being concerned in their supply between 2013 and 2014.

Following today's sentencing North Yorkshire Police Det Sgt Ryan Chapman said: “Elms seemed to think that he would disappear from our radar if he didn’t attend court. But it doesn’t work like that.

“We’ve worked tirelessly with Greater Manchester Police to track him down and ensure he was brought to justice.

“We owed it to the people of Scarborough, whose communities his offending has tarnished, to take these offenders off the streets. And today’s substantial sentence means we’ve taken Elms, who was the head of this gang, out of circulation for a very long time.

"The length of his sentence also sends a clear message to other gangs who are considering supplying drugs in North Yorkshire.”

A sixth member of the gang, 26-year-old Paul Daniel Heaton, also absconded before sentencing and remains wanted by police.

Heaton is five feet, 11 inches tall and is proportionately built. He has blue eyes, short hair and is often unshaven. He speaks with a Manchester accent.

Anyone who has information that could help detectives locate him should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and select option 1. Any immediate sightings should be reported on 999. Alternatively, you can call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.