Prison pair in major drugs plot, court told; Police say mules carrying ecstasy and cocaine 'caught red-handed' after surveillance op.
DRUG traffickers plotted to bring more than pounds 60,000 worth of killer substances to the streets of Tyneside after a prison cell meeting, a court heard.
Yvonne Sayers became embroiled in the drugs ring with her boyfriend Lee O'Brien after an associate met a Merseyside dealer during a prison stint, it is alleged.
And when detectives swooped on the couple's Tyneside home they discovered a stash of heroin, ecstasy and mind-bending BZP tablets.
Businessman Peter Anthony Greenhill orchestrated the operation after forming a friendship with Liverpudlian Matthew Lovell as he served an eight-year prison sentence for supplying class A drugs, it is claimed.
Just days after their release, prosecutors say he hatched a plot to transport the drugs from Merseyside to the streets of Newcastle.
Sayers, 22, and O'Brien became drug mules who travelled hundreds of miles to pick up the packages by liaising with Greenhill, who was the "brains behind the operation", a jury has heard.
Behind the respectable front of the 37-year-old's car valeting business, Luke's Self Drive, in North Shields, he operated an intricate drugs ring importing amphetamines to the region, it is alleged.
Sayers and O'Brien were "caught red-handed" as they made their way back from a drugs pick-up in Liverpool where they met Lovell and collected a brown paper bag, it is claimed.
Stephen Wood, prosecuting, said: "During his sentence of imprisonment Greenhill met a man named Matthew Lovell. Lovell was also serving a custodial sentence for drug supply offences. That was cocaine and cannabis resin.
"It is the Crown's case that these two men with common criminal interests decided to keep in touch to pursue these criminal interests."
Detailing the meeting on March 24 last year, Mr Wood said: "Matthew Lovell arrived in the Morrisons car park, on Hedgefield Road, Belle Vale, Liverpool, driving a Subaru Forrester and parked up next to the hire van.
"He got out of his vehicle and spoke to O'Brien and Sayers through the passenger window. Sayers handed Lovell something, which he put in his pocket.
"After that exchange Lovell handed a white package, described by observing police officers to be larger than a tennis ball, to O'Brien. Lovell also handed a smaller item to O'Brien.
"This was a drugs handover in which all those present must have known what was occurring and were willingly taking a full and active role."
Officers swooped on the van as it made its way up the A1 near Gateshead and O'Brien desperately tried to dismantle his mobile phone, it is claimed.
A brown paper KFC bag was discovered under Sayers' seat containing 1kg of paracetamol and caffeine, which were to be used as cutting agents, as well as 125grams of cocaine and 985 tablets of MDMA, it is said.
When they raided the couple's home on Fouracres Road, in Blakelaw, detectives found 111 grams of heroin with an 18% purity, 4,667 half BZP tablets, scales containing heroin and a further 4,410 BZP tablets.
Police arrested Greenhill as he walked along the Promenade in Whitley Bay and when they searched his home they found nearly pounds 3,000 in cash.
When they scoured his business they found a vacuum sealing kit, which was littered with traces of amphetamines on the sealing strip, lawyers said.
Lovell was also arrested, but after being bailed he fled his home and remains on the run.
Greenhill denied any knowledge of the meeting during police interview and said he had only occasionally spoken to Lovell about growth hormones because he "wanted to lose his gut by cheating," jurors heard.
But prosecutors dismissed claims that the meeting between Sayers, O'Brien and Lovell had been an "amazing coincidence" and said Greenhill had orchestrated the drugs handover. Mr Wood told Leeds Crown Court: "This was no coincidence, it was a meeting by design, a meeting set up by Greenhill."
Detectives had launched an undercover operation - code-named Operation Mystique - where they closely monitored the activities of Greenhill, Sayers and O'Brien.
O'Brien was recorded making several trips to Greenhill's business in North Shields.
And in one incident the pair made a trip to Russell Street in the town where a "transaction" took place with a man named Gary Kirkbride, the court heard.
O'Brien later claimed that he was handing over two sanders, a heat gun and a drill.
Sayers, of Molineux Close, Byker, denies four counts of conspiracy to supply drugs. Greenhill, of Caesar Way, Holy Cross, North Tyneside, denies five counts of conspiracy to supply drugs.
O'Brien has already admitted a string of drug offences.
The trial continues.
TRIAL Leeds Crown Court and Matthew Lovell, who fled after being bailed
TOGETHER Yvonne and her dad, John Henry Sayers DENIES CHARGES Yvonne Sayers has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply drugs