Yarmouth drugs gang sentenced

Members of “highly organised” gang, responsible for bringing thousands of pounds worth of cocaine into Norfolk, were last night starting sentences totalling more than 17 years.

Members of a “highly organised” gang, responsible for bringing thousands of pounds worth of cocaine into Norfolk, were last night starting sentences totalling more than 17 years.

The gang, who dealt cocaine in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Caister areas, were led by Robert Munday, 30, from Cheshire.

He was said to be high up the chain of supply and was estimated to have benefited from the drugs-dealing oper-ation to a tune of more than �1m.

When arrested in January, he was found to have �77,500 in cash in his home and also a new Audi TT car, which have all been seized by police.

This latest crackdown is one of a number of operations carried out by Norfolk police aimed at making it difficult for gangs outside the county, who have constantly been trying to target this area, to ply their trade.

Norwich Crown Court heard that cocaine was collected from Munday by drivers Lewis Alp, 20 and Steven Barrett, 24, who worked for another wholesaler in Norfolk, Sam Asbury. Thirty-year-old Asbury is also said to have made thousands of pounds out of the drug-dealing business.

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However, the operation was smashed following a long-running intelligence plan, codenamed Operation Abut.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said when caught by police, Asbury led officers on a car chase, throwing drugs from his window before crashing his car into the sea, at Caister, in a bid to destroy evidence.

Yesterday, Munday and Asbury, of Uplands Avenue, Caister, were in the dock along with four other members of the gang for sentence after they all admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs over a period of about a year.

Sentencing them, Judge Paul Downes told them it had been an “organised” operation.

“It involved Class A drugs, which this court has to regard seriously because of the damage it does.”

Jailing Munday for four years, eight months, Judge Downes said he was a “prime mover” and “quite close to the source of supply.” He said: “You were a wholesaler in the North West. You were the leader of this little group and close to the source of supply.”

He also ordered confiscation of assets worth �127,826, which includes the sports car and designer clothing.

He jailed Asbury for four years and banned him for driving for two years for dangerous driving.

He also had �22,000 of his assets confiscated as his proceeds of crime.

Driver Alp, of Newport Road, Hemsby, was sent to a young offenders' institution for three years, four months and Barrett of North Road, Ormesby, who also acted as a courier, was jailed for three years.

Ben Hall, 26 of Brooke Avenue, Caister, who helped sell the drugs around Yarmouth, was jailed for two-and-a-half years and Sarah Mallett, 28 of Palmer Road, Gorleston, who was also involved in selling the drugs, was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and a supervision order,

Mark Smith, for Munday, said: “He does not quibble where he is placed in the hierarchy. He knows his position is the most serious.”

He said that he had no previous convictions for drugs, but had become involved after losing his job working in IT and becoming depressed.

Michael Clare, for Asbury, said the proceeds talked about were unrealistic. “This is a man working five days a week as a bricklayer.”

He added: “This is a working man with a drug habit who has got effectively nothing to show for his involvement.”

Afterwards the judge commended Det Con Alex Scott, Det Insp Alice Scott, Det Con Hayley Harwood, Det Sgt Craig Ives and Det Sgt Gary Brotherhood for their work on the case.