OPERATION LASER: Brownsover man behind team of dealers gets eight years in prison

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A drug-supplier who co-ordinated and controlled his own street-level dealers, and even brought in a ‘temp’ when one of them was on holiday, has been jailed for eight years.

Iain Barden, 31, of Whernside, Brownsover, Rugby, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

“Barden was a dealer above dealers, and had a number of dealers operating under him, and he also had a stock of drugs under his control,” said prosecutor Gareth Walters.

Street-level dealers operating under him included Lee Burn, Matthew James and Chelmesli Kennedy, who all also pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

James, 23, of Blossom Way, Rugby, who Judge Marten Coates described as Barden’s ‘right-hand man,’ was jailed for three-and-half years.

Kennedy, 18, of Coton Road, Rugby, who stood in for James for one week, was sentenced to 18 months detention; but sentencing of Burn, 33, of Eskdale, Brownsover, was adjourned because he was facing another matter.

Mr Walters said that in March last year an undercover officer known as Al met up with a drug-user who used his phone to call Burn and then left Al’s car and returned with a £10 wrap of heroin which he gave to Al.

Two days later Al called Burn himself and was told to go to Copeland in Brownsover where he bought heroin from Burn.

When Al called again in April Burn offered to supply him with three wraps for £25, and that exchange ten took place.

Three days they met up again and Burn asked Al to take him to collect some heroin before they went to Siddaway House in Millers Dale Close where Burn went in while Al waited outside.

Later Peter Roberts came out and gave Al three wraps, saying ‘Lee said you wanted this,’ for which Roberts, 37, of Siddaway House, who was described as a ‘vulnerable person’ was given a community order with two years supervision after he admitted one charge of supplying heroin.

Mr Walters said Burn was also active in seeking trade by calling Al offering him heroin and later telling him that he was dealing in crack as well.

So in May Al bought a £20 deal of crack from Burn who had used his phone to call Barden from whom Burn got the drug.

Subsequently Al called Barden himself a number of times, and on each occasion was told to go through Burn, but in June Barden finally agreed to meet Al ‘at the top of Grizedale.’

As Al waited Barden cycled past and then returned to him and they went into an alleyway where Barden sold him two wraps of crack for £40, and later in the month two similar exchanges took place.

But at their next meeting Barden turned up with James, to whom Al handed the money in exchange for crack, although later that day the officer bought heroin directly from Barden.

In July Al was given James’s number by another dealer, so called him and bought a £20 wrap of crack from him that day and wraps of crack and heroin for £30 the following day.

But the next time he called James’s number it was Kennedy who turned up and sold him ‘one of each’ for £30.

Al bought crack from Kennedy again later that week, but then the phone was again answered by James, who had been away on holiday for a week, and who sold him crack that day and wraps of heroin later in the month.

Mr Walters said Barden accepts playing a leading role, while Burn claimed he had supplied drugs on five occasions and James said he had been working for someone else, passing on drugs except during the week when he was on holiday, during which the phone had been passed to Kennedy, but not by him.

Jailing Barden, Judge Marten Coates told him: “You are probably the most culpable of the 40 or so people arrested and brought before the court under Operation Aberfoyle.

“You are very much someone who tried to remain in the background, but you admit you played a leading role in the supply of drugs in Rugby.

“You are not a user yourself, so your motivation was purely financial, and you brought others into this to hide your involvement. I have in mind particularly Burn and James who were protecting you to an extent.

“You are in the thick of it over a long period of time. You co-ordinated your dealers and you controlled them.

“One can see that in action when Kennedy was brought in to stand in for a week when your principal dealer James was on holiday.”

Tom Schofield, for James, who was ‘gripped in an addiction to crack,’ said he had been given the phone and had it on weekdays but not at weekends in case his mother saw it and questioned what was going on, and was not responsible for passing it to Kennedy when he went on holiday.

Judge Coates told James: “I know you were not a controlling figure. But the picture you painted was of being the right-hand man of a prominent drug dealer in Rugby.”

And he told Kennedy, who had also admitted a charge of affray: “It is perfectly clear you were brought into this by Barden, and maybe James.

“You were involved in the supply of class A drugs for no more than a week. But there has to be a custodial sentence.”