An organised crime gang involved in the supply of illegal drugs has been jailed for almost 65 years.
The 13 men were all members of an organised crime gang who had been flooding the streets of Crewe with Cocaine.
The sentencing was the culmination of an 11-month long investigation by officers from Cheshire Police’s Crime Operations Unit.
It started in September 2015 when officers tracked a group of men they believed were involved in the supply of Class A drugs in the town.
On Wednesday 10 August 2016 after monitoring the gang for almost a year, officers carried out a series of dawn raids at addresses across Crewe, Nantwich and Newcastle-under-Lyme, leading to the arrest of eight men on suspicion of drugs offences. Two other men were produced from Risley Prison and arrested.
Following their arrest, nine of the men, Martin Day, 34; Anthony Preedy, 28; Luke Bowers, 21; Matthew Young, 32; Philip Derricutt, 35; Thomas Coppenhall, 23; Andrew Holdcroft, 37; Russell Barker, 52; and Lee Cooper, 35; were all charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. A tenth suspect Nicholas Hall, 33, was released on police bail
Three days after the warrants, a further arrest was made at Manchester Airport when 45-year-old Paul Hamlett, of Parkers Road, Crewe, was arrested after returning to the UK from a family holiday. Following questioning he was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
As the investigation continued two further arrests were made on November 11, 2016. Following questioning Colin Earrey, 47, and James Taylor, 33, were both charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. In addition Nicholas Hall, 33, who was arrested and bailed during the initial warrants, was also charged with the same offence on November 18, 2016.
The gang all later appeared at Chester Crown Court where seven members of the group (Hamlett, Coppenhall, Preedy, Bowers, Holdcroft, Earrey and Hall) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
The remaining six gang members (Day, Cooper, Derricutt, Young, Barker and Taylor) chose to plead not guilty to the charges and stood trial at Chester Crown Court in January and February 2017.
During the trial the jury heard how officers had gathered extensive evidence against the group.
The evidence revealed that the group, led by Martin Day, had six dealers (Young, Coppenhall, Bowers, Taylor, Hall and Preedy) distributing Class A drugs across Crewe.
In addition, Day also supplied drugs to Paul Hamlett who would then distribute them to a further three dealers (Barker, Cooper and Derricutt).
The court also heard that Earrey and Holdcroft allowed their homes to be used to store and prepare the drugs for their onward supply.
The jury were presented with mobile phone data that showed how Day and Hamlett were in contact with each other on a daily basis organising their criminal activities.
During the investigation it was established that the ‘Eight Farmers Public House’, where Hamlett was living at the time of his arrest, was used as a ‘hub’ by the gang; with Day and Hamlett often using the pub as a base to meet with other gang members.
After hearing all the evidence presented against the group the jury took two days to find them guilty of all the charges against them.
All 13 members of the gang appeared at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday 29 March where Judge Woodward sentenced them to a total of 64 years 3 months behind bars.
The sentences included:
- Martin Day, 34 – Draycott Drive, Newcastle Under Lyme – 10 years 6 Months
- Matthew Young, 32 – Crewe Road, Wistaston – 6 years
- Luke Bowers, 21 – Brookhouse Drive, Crewe – 4 years
- James Taylor, 33 – Hughes Drive, Crewe - 5 years
- Nicholas Hall, 33 – Worsdell Close, Crewe – 3 years 4 months
- Anthony Preedy, 28 – Fairbourne Avenue, Crewe- 5 years
- Thomas Coppenhall, 23 – Risley Prison - 4 years 4 months
- Paul Hamlett, 45 - Parkers Road, Crewe– 6 years 6 months
- Russell Barker, 52– Alton Street Crewe - 4 years
- Philip Derricutt, 35 - Camm Street, Crewe - 3 years
- Lee Cooper, 35 – West Street, Crewe – 4 years 3 months
- Andrew Holdcroft, 37 – Risley Prison – 5 years
- Colin Earrey, 47 – Hesketh Croft, Leighton - 3 years 4 months
Following the sentencing Detective Inspector Giles Pierce from the Crime Operations Unit, said: “This was a long and complex investigation which has led to substantial prison sentences for all of the defendants involved.
“Throughout the investigation, it had been clear that Day was the ringleader of this criminal enterprise. He lived a luxurious lifestyle from his Staffordshire home, using the money raised from the supply of illicit drugs to fund extravagant holidays, expensive cars and high-tech technology.
“Day made his money by maintaining disciplined control of the gang to act as a network of ‘couriers’ for him; distributing illegal drugs across Crewe and South Cheshire. He facilitated the large-scale supply of illegal drugs, whilst attempting minimise his own direct involvement in their movement.
“However, thanks to a comprehensive investigation by my team, we were able to gather extensive evidence, which proved that Day, along with the other 12 members of the gang, were all guilty of the charges brought against them.”
Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “It’s pleasing to see the sentences handed down to the defendants, which will keep the individuals involved off Cheshire’s streets. I would like to thank all of the officers and staff involved in the operation for the dedication and commitment that they have shown.
“Having seen the threat posed by organised criminal gangs, removing those involved in this activity from our communities is paramount and sends a strong message that they are not welcome in our county.”
Detective Inspector Giles Pierce added: “The investigation was carried out as part of Operation Impact and it shows the commitment that we have in targeting those who undermine our communities and bring misery to residents through their involvement in organised crime and illegal drugs.
“I hope that this case sends out a clear message to other potential criminals that the use and supply of illegal drugs crime will not be tolerated in Cheshire.
“While this investigation has now concluded our fight against organised criminals continues, and I urge anyone with any information about suspected drug related activity in their local communities to get in touch.
“Anyone with any information can contact us directly on 101, alternatively, information can also be reported anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.”