At Gloucester Crown Court yesterday (Monday 6th) prosecutor Ian Fenny explained that on April 24th 2018, police were observing suspected Class A drug users in a supermarket car park in Stroud when they were seen to approach a parked Rover car.
Mr Fenny said: “The police then approached the vehicle and the three men in the back seat of the Rover ran away.
“Police gave chase and a youth and two men were soon caught and arrested.
“The woman stayed behind the wheel of the car.
“On the back seat, where the male defendants had been sitting, was a large number of wraps of heroin and crack cocaine – about £1,000 worth in street deals, along with a number of phones.”
In the dock were the 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, Caleb Goggins, 18, of Hatherley Road, Gloucester and Sallie-Ann Lane, 31, of Target Close, Stroud, who all pleaded guilty to dealing in class a drugs.
A fourth defendant, James Joyce, 18, of Hucclecote Road, Gloucester, had denied the same offence but was convicted after a trial.
The 17-yr-old was also being sentenced for other drug dealing offences on April 11th 2018 when he was stopped and searched after being spotted with a known drug user in an alleyway.
“A number of mobile phones were recovered which were analysed and found to contain 1,570 drug dealing messages for the ‘Star Line’ – part of the county lines drug operation being run in Gloucestershire, Taunton and Herefordshire,” said the prosecutor.
The court was told that the youth was arrested again on September 9, 2018 where he was found to have stashed a quantity of class A drugs in his underwear.
Mr Fenny concluded: “It will be seen that the youth, despite his tender years, had a substantial role within this drugs operation.”
Guy Wyatt, for the youth said: “He has been exploited by others since he was very young, and that provides a context to his offending. The first offence was committed when he was still 16.
“There is some basis for optimism as he is doing well in the education unit at the detention centre.
“He is not a lost cause.”
Mr Wyatt said on Joyce’s behalf: “He became involved through his use of cannabis which he took up following the death of his father.”
Sarah Jenkins, defending Lane, said: “She didn’t have any understanding of the scale of the drug operation. Lane had a minor role and was not paid in cash but in drugs. Since being in custody she is now clean from drugs.”
Mr Wyatt for Goggins said: “He was 18 on the day of the offence. He did not realise that his drug habit had become problematic. He is now coming to terms with his addiction.”
Sentencing the four defendants Judge Euan Ambrose said: “You were all dealing in Class A drugs from a supermarket car park. When police officers approached the vehicle the youth and the men ran off but were all quickly detained.
“Police recovered a large quantity of ready wrapped drugs – 57 containing heroin and 69 of crack cocaine.
“Three of you pleaded guilty to the offence with Joyce being found guilty after a trial. Your offending is so serious that only custodial sentences can be justified.”
Turning to the youth, the judge said: “You are also being sentenced for other drug-related offences for which you were released under investigation but were discovered to be dealing four months later.
“You were released into the care of the local authority yet you were offending again in September last year. Your DNA came to light during a county-lines investigation.
“You repeatedly carried out your offending over a nine month period. I have taken into account your pre-sentence report and the letter you’ve written to the court.
“I’ve taken into account that you rejected the advice given by the national referral scheme and entered a guilty plea for your offending.
“An adult being sentenced at this court for your offences would be looking at a prison term of seven-and-a-half years, you will be detained in a young offender’s institution for three and-a-half years.
“I also order the forfeiture of £533.50 as the proceeds of drug dealing.”
Turning to Goggins, Judge Ambrose said: “You committed the offence on your 18th birthday and note that you are already addressing your drug habit.
The judge sentenced Goggins to two years and three months in a young offender’s institution.
Judge Ambrose said to Lane: “At the age of 31 you are significantly older than your co-defendants. You had a limited role in the operation. You were a class A drug user at the time of the offence.
“You role was to drive the vehicle to which you had no insurance.
“However you failed to appear at court for a hearing and a warrant for your arrest was issued. You have become clean from drugs whilst in custody.”
The judge sentenced Lane to two years and three months in prison and endorsed her driving licence with six points for no insurance.
Turning to Joyce the judge said: “You were convicted after a trial. You were 18-years and three months old at the time of the offence. Technically you were an adult but still immature.”
The judge sentence Joyce to three years in a young offender’s institution.
All defendants were ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and ordered for the forfeiture of all drugs and all relevant paraphernalia seized.