PICTURED: The 3 men jailed for running drugs enterprise in Scarborough, selling cocaine and heroin on the 'P-Line'

Pictured with this story are the three Scarborough men jailed for a huge "county lines" drug-dealing conspiracy in which they targeted their home town, frequenting the Barrowcliff Estate and selling to Scarborough drug users, many of whom were vulnerable addicts.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 6:06 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd May 2021, 6:08 pm

Benjamin Freer, 25, Bradley Taylor, 21, and 20-year-old Alfie Bailey used mobile phone numbers known as the ‘P-Line’ to run the narcotics enterprise and “broadcast” their illicit wares to drug users, York Crown Court heard.

A fourth man, 20-year-old Kyle Blades-Wilkinson, was also manning the ‘P-Line’ at one stage but the court heard he was roped into the conspiracy by others who acted “like vultures”.

At various stages during the 12-month conspiracy, each of the drug pushers were arrested and bailed under investigation, only for the supply operation to continue unabated.

York Crown Court

Prosecutor Deborah Smithies said the ‘P-Line’, which was used to direct and “manage” the supply network, simply passed from one dealer to another.

Taylor, Freer, Bailey and Blades-Wilkinson each admitted two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs between November 2019 and November 2020.

Bailey also admitted three counts of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply and one count of possessing Class B cannabis with intent after being arrested at an earlier date for these separate offences, which included the dealing of the Ecstasy-type drug MDMA.

Bradley Taylor

Blades-Wilkinson, of Long Walk, Scarborough, also admitted a separate charge of cannabis possession.

A fifth man, 31-year-old Scott Simpson, admitted allowing his premises to be used for the supply of drugs but was not involved in the conspiracy.

Bailey 'took up the reins'

Ms Smithies said the conspiracy involved the “supply of drugs through a dealer line known as the ‘P Line’ in the Scarborough area”.

Ben Freer

The line was “primarily” operated by Taylor, but when he was finally remanded in custody, Blades-Wilkinson began running the operation and then Bailey “took up the reins” for a six-week period between October and November last year.

Bailey, of Maple Drive, had already been arrested and bailed for separate drug offences in August 2019 when police swooped on his flat in Queens Terrace and found dozens of heroin packages weighing about 45g, as well as 28g of cocaine and 122 MDMA tablets. They also discovered more than 50 cannabis packages weighing over 190g and electronic weighing scales. Eight mobile phones and cash were seized.

Taylor was initially arrested for an “unrelated matter” in December 2019, when police seized a mobile phone which was using the ‘P-Line’ number to take “incoming messages from people asking to purchase drugs”, said Ms Smithies.

“The ‘P-Line’ was operating a straightforward ‘ring-and-bring’ system,” she added.

Alfie Bailey

“The line was used to send broadcast messages advertising drugs for sale in Scarborough.”

Arrangements were made for users to meet street dealers, one of whom was Blades-Wilkinson, who was stopped and searched in Clifton Street in January last year. Police found two wraps of crack cocaine and analysis of his mobile phone showed that he was supplying drugs “on behalf of the ‘P-Line’”.

He too was arrested and bailed. Police searched his flat in Scarborough and found a cache of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.

“The ‘P-Line’ was most likely under Bradley Taylor’s control over that period,” added Ms Smithies.

And messages sent by Freer to Blades-Wilkinson were becoming “increasingly intimidating”.

In April last year, Blades-Wilkinson was stopped again in Fieldside where local drug users had gathered. Police found 17 wraps of crack cocaine, £130 cash and two mobile phones on him.

Ms Smithies said Blades-Wilkinson was street-dealing “under the direction of Bradley Taylor and Benjamin Freer”.

14-year-old boy used

At the time, Taylor, of Prospect Crescent, Scarborough, was operating the ‘P-Line’ from a caravan in Bridlington, while Freer was buying top-up credit for the phones. On one occasion, in August last year, they sent a 14-year-old boy to buy a top-up and the phone number was “switched over” to send out more block messages to drug customers.

The following day, two teenagers were stopped by police after selling heroin to a woman in Gallows Fields. She told officers she had arranged to buy the drugs on the ‘P-Line’.

While manning the ‘P-Line’, Blades-Wilkinson, who was “sofa-surfing”, was offered accommodation by drug addict Scott Simpson who took pity on him and allowed him to stay at his then flat on Hoxton Road.

However, Blades-Wilkinson quickly turned the flat into a drug-dealing base under orders from Taylor and Freer.

Ms Smithies said that Simpson - now of Longwestgate - was “anxious” for the drug dealers to leave his flat, but they effectively took it over for a three-month period between August and September.

Simpson handed himself in at Scarborough Police Station in October, telling officers he was a crack-cocaine user who had been buying drugs from the ‘P-Line’.

“He said Bradley Taylor, Benjamin Freer and Alfie Bailey had been using his flat as a base and he couldn’t get rid of them,” added Ms Smithies.

While Bailey was manning the ‘P-Line’, he was sending “broadcast” messages out to over 50 drug users a day.

Previous convictions

All five men had previous convictions. Freer’s rap sheet included burglary, shoplifting, battery and drugs possession.

Bailey had previous convictions for robbing a taxi driver and a pizza delivery worker during separate incidents in which he pointed an imitation firearm at their heads.

Simpson had convictions for violence, handling stolen goods, threatening behaviour and harassment.

Conor Quinn, for Taylor, said his client started drug-dealing after losing his job.

Richard Barradell, for Bailey, said his client had joined the conspiracy to pay for his own drug addiction.

Graham Parkin, for Blades-Wilkinson, said his client was a “vulnerable, highly-suggestible” young man who had been “exploited” by others.

Ian Whitehurst, for Freer, said Freer, of Seamer Road, started dealing because he had lost his job and was in debt.

Fiona Clancy, for Simpson, said her client, who had mental-health issues, had been “intimidated” by the others into letting his flat be used as a drugs base.

Judge Sean Morris said: “Drug-dealing and drug-taking in North Yorkshire has become a major problem.

“Those who peddle Class A drugs… must accept that the starting point is a lengthy prison sentence, although it is right to observe that in all conspiracies, there are senior officers and there are foot soldiers.”

Taylor was jailed for four-and-a-half years. Freer, described as the “second-in-command”, was jailed for three years and seven months. Bailey was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Blades-Wilkinson was given a 15-month suspended jail sentence because he had been “manipulated” by others. As part of the order, he will have to undergo a six-month drug-rehabilitation programme.

Simpson was given a two-year community order with six months’ drug rehabilitation because he too had been exploited by the ringleaders described by the judge as “vultures”.