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Seven jailed for 62 years over a PS1.25m 'one-stop' drugs shop.

Byline: Gareth Lightfoot Court Reporter

It set of drawers and in a shed at a man's home in Brompton, North Yorkshire, following the collection of a heavy sports bag in Northallerton. June 17: William Weatherall is caught getting into a Ford Fiesta at the Darlington club car park with a wash bag containing PS29,355 cash. July 16: A bag containing two blocks of heroin weighing a total of 1.48kg with a potential street value of PS74,250 is seized in Middlesbrough, with PS14,410 cash found in a car and 87.6g cocaine, digital scales and PS1,100 cash at a man's home.

August 2: Thomas Nicholson is detained by police after handling a black bag containing PS19,680 cash. His brother Mark's Darlington home is searched, where police find 8kg of amphetamine worth PS94,380 in the shed, 25.2g of crack cocaine, scales and PS1,000 cash.

August 7: A holdall containing 9.84kg of amphetamine worth between PS43,000 and PS300,000 is found in a Fiat car after an exchange for a "substantial amount A GANG of wholesale drug dealers is behind bars for a total of 62 years today after the seizure of PS1.25mworth of drugs.

Seven men were given prison sentences ranging from four to 17 years for drugs offences at Teesside Crown Court.

Officers seized 1.5kg of cocaine, 4.5kg of heroin, 2kg of MCAT, 30kg of cannabis, 20kg of amphetamine, a double-barrelled shotgun and about PS105,000 cash in a police operation which smashed a drugs network.

Judge Sean Morris said: "It's quite clear on the evidence that there were further shipments, which probably, I suspect, might still be swilling around the veins of the losers who are drug takers."

He jailed four Middlesbrough dealers - Paul McQuade, Jacob Mains, Connor Robson and Bronson Robinson - for a total of 43 years.

He told them: "You were part of a gang which was a one-stop shop for drugs of all kinds which were being moved about the north of England. There were connections to other cities.

"Drug dealing generates crime. The amount of it that is connected to drugs is phenomenal. I've seen it again and again.

"I've seen defendants who would steal from their own parents, punch their own sister in the face to steal her handbag so that they can buy the commodities that you four made money out of."

He jailed electrician McQuade for 17 years and Mains for 15 years, saying they were ringleaders "at the heart of this conspiracy" dealing in drugs of "exceptionally high" purity, close to importation level.

McQuade - who had cherished number plates and Rolex and Hublot watches - was also sentenced for having a shotgun which the judge said would be passed to serious criminals.

Judge Morris locked up three more men - Neil Howard and brothers Mark and Thomas Nicholson - for almost 20 years.

He told this trio: "Drugs are a scourge. You're not guilty just of this crime.

"You bear responsibility for countless robberies, muggings, burglaries, thefts, that all goes on in the north of England in order to pay for drugs."

He commended police officers for their dedication and professionalism in a "long-running and difficult surveillance investigation".

With sentences previously passed on others linked to the network, the total jail terms almost reach 100 years.

Prosecutor Nick Johnson QC said drugs were supplied at wholesale level by conspirators high in the supply chain using conduits and multiple phones, storing a shotgun at a home.

Police covertly watched a string of meetings involving the exchange of packages, the court heard.

Gangs in Middlesbrough and Darlington cooperated, passing drugs and helping each other out.

Couriers made repeated trips to Middlesbrough and the two groups took drugs and cash from West Yorkshire, held meetings in remote rural locations, showed "forensic awareness" and used "counter-surveillance techniques".

Phones and SIM cards were changed to avoid detection and numbers dropped or switched after arrests and busts.

Defence barristers stressed factors like naivety, previous good character, legitimate work, good work in prison, supportive families, the lack of influence, large profits, criminal sophistication or lavish lifestyles, and references - some from a councillor and a pastor.

The defendants Paul McQuade, 32, of Birkhall Road, Thorntree, Middlesbrough: jailed for 17 years.

Convicted after a two-week trial on three counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, one of conspiring to supply heroin, one of conspiring to supply amphetamine and one of possessing a shotgun without a certificate - his first offences.

Jacob Mains, 28, formerly of Holtby Walk, Pallister Park, Middlesbrough: jailed for 15 years. Convicted after trial on two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine and one of conspiring to supply amphetamine, and admitted conspiring to supply heroin. Previously locked up for three years for conspiring to supply Class A drugs in 2007, and 45 months for causing grievous bodily harm with intent in 2011.

McQuade and Mains both played leading roles in the drugs plots, each using 13 phones. Connor Robson, 23, of Ferndale Avenue, Brambles Farm, Middlesbrough: jailed for six years.

Bronson Robinson, 24, of Cambridge Avenue, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough: jailed for five years.

Both convicted after trial of conspiring to supply cocaine, their first offences, in a single 1kg deal described as "one day of stupidity". Both played lesser roles.

Robson's cousin Martin Robson was jailed for six-and-a-half years in July 2014. Then 23, of Roworth Road, Thorntree, Middlesbrough, he admitted possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.

Neil Howard, 50, of no fixed address: jailed for eight years.

Admitted conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and cannabis. He was a "conduit" between Middlesbrough and Darlington drugs gangs. The court heard he suffered a heart attack in prison. Jailed for four years in 1998 for importing Class B drugs. Mark James Nicholson, 29, of no fixed address: jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Admitted conspiring to supply cocaine, MCAT, cannabis and amphetamine and possession of criminal property, PS6,000.

His younger brother Thomas Nicholson, 20, of Kildale Moor Place, Darlington: jailed for four years.

Admitted conspiring to supply cocaine, MCAT and amphetamine.

Thomas boxed for England as a teenager and was said to have a "glittering future" ahead of him until he was recruited and "utilised" by his older brother as a "delivery man".

William Weatherall, 50, of Bright Street, Darlington: given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. Admitted possession of criminal property, PS29,355 cash. The judge showed mercy, saying Weatherall was seriously ill and had otherwise been a decent hard-working man.

Key events - a timeline April 8: A Vauxhall Astra driven by Connor Robson is stopped on the A67 after an exchange in a Darlington club car park. Robson's passenger, his cousin Michael Robson, later kicked a package from his shorts at Middlesbrough police station, saying: "You might as well have this." contained 1kg 86%-pure cocaine, worth up to PS172,000, wrapped in black tape.

April 28: A taxi is stopped in the Harehills area of Leeds after an exchange involving Thomas Nicholson. Two foil packages containing 1.94kg of MCAT are found in the footwell. May 23: McQuade drives his Audi A3 to Cadwell Close, Netherfields, Middlesbrough where he supplied another man with a double-barrelled shotgun. The gun was found dismantled, hidden in an airing cupboard, with 930g amphetamine worth PS9,300 at a home on Ainstable Road, Ormesby. On the same day, blocks of cannabis resin weighing a total of 30kg, worth PS130,275, are found on a bed, of money"near a Darlington supermarket. Neil Howard turns up with a bag containing PS9,920 cash in his car. September 25: Jacob Mains is arrested after a police chase on Gedney Avenue, Park End, Middlesbrough. He is found hiding near a black rucksack containing 3kg of heroin worth PS327,650, which had been thrown into bushes. November 12: 67.7g of cocaine is found in the footwell of McQuade's Transit van on Merlin Road, Middlesbrough. He has a "sample" of cocaine in his pocket. Police find another 182g of cocaine worth at a home on the same street. The haul has an estimated street value of PS45,000.


| Neil Howard, and brothers Mark Nicholson and Thomas Nicholson were jailed for almost 20 years for their part in events

| A suitcase of drugs found during the police operation

| Left, Connor Robson and Paul McQuade, and below Jacob Mains and Bronson Robinson were jailed for a total of 43 years for their parts in the drugs conspiracy, which included the haul above
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 23, 2016
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