County lines drug dealing trio jailed for peddling heroin and cocaine in Scarborough

Three County Lines dealers have been jailed for a combined 26 years for peddling heroin and cocaine in Scarborough.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 1:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 1:54 pm

Benjamin Heppenstall, 22, Christopher Watt, 37, from Scarborough, and Benjamin Whitwam, 26, supplied half a kilo in the space of just four weeks as part of a cross-county drug-dealing operation based in West Yorkshire.

The drugs were trafficked from the West Riding to the east coast between November 2020 and January this year, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Dan Cordey said Heppenstall and Whitwam, both from Huddersfield, had “substantial links” to a drug “retailer” to whom they owed money.

Ben Heppenstall.

They paid off that money by dealing in Scarborough, although they were also doing so “for their own profit”.

Heppenstall, of Watercroft, Almondbury, and Whitwam had “substantial influence on others in the (drug) chain” and organised “group communications” on mobile phones to inform drug users that the “commodity was about to arrive in Scarborough”.

Watt, of James Place, Scarborough, delivered the drugs and it was he who “provided the distribution hub in this conspiracy”.

Whitwam, of Luton Street, Cowlersley, carried on dealing for another month after the conspiracy had been uncovered, the court heard.

Christopher Watt.

All three men admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Heppenstall also admitted possessing a prohibited firearm, namely a sawn-off shotgun, which was found under the stairs at his home.

They appeared for sentence via video link on Wednesday (Nov 17) after being remanded in custody.

The court heard that Heppenstall had previous convictions for possessing illegal weapons and knives.

Benjamin Whitwam.

Watt had two previous convictions for dealing Class A drugs.

Judge Sean Morris told the defendants: “Those who peddle drugs on a County Lines basis must expect to be dealt with harshly and I congratulate the police for a very good investigation.”

Jailing Heppenstall for 10 years and nine months, Mr Morris said the drug offences were aggravated by the fact that he was caught with a “murderous” weapon.

Whitwam was jailed for seven years and nine months.

Jailing Watt for seven-and-a-half years, Mr Morris said he was not as “high up the scale” as the others, although he had played a “significant” role in the drug conspiracy and only pleaded guilty on the day of trial.