Police operation ‘revealed city drugs network’

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HEROIN and crack cocaine was being sold on the streets of Portsmouth through a complex network that ran between the city and London, a court heard.

Austin Stanbury was a key figure, making numerous trips to Portsmouth to supply drugs, prosecutors say.

The jury was told how police tracked the 29-year-old’s mobile phones and the movements of his car through automatic number plate recognition technology over a period of months.

The prosecution say that Stanbury ran the ‘Sky’ network alongside Hamida Merzoug, 23, of Welling in Kent.

At the start of the three-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, Daniel Sawyer, prosecuting, said: ‘The crown’s case is that these two people were the organisers of the drug dealing network.

‘You will hardly ever hear them referred to by their correct names, doing things in a way that was obscure for perhaps fairly obvious reasons – if you are dealing class A drugs you don’t want your name bandied around.’

Stanbury, of Ilford in Essex, is accused of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs between November 2009 and August 2010, alongside Jennifer Collins, 25, of Hill Road, Fareham, and Robert Tomney, 42, of Stamshaw Road, Stamshaw.

Detective Constable Stephen Kelly, a drugs intelligence officer, told the jury how he had seen the drugs trade in the city develop from a ‘cottage industry’ to a highly-organised business.

He said: ‘Throughout my time I have seen revolutions in the drug trade, especially in Portsmouth. It used to be very much a cottage industry.

‘Four or five years ago we saw the business side of the drugs scene take over the city. Along with the business side came the more structured side.

‘You will always have someone heading that business. The drugs are given to subordinates or mules.’

Collins and Tomney were both described as ‘landlords’ – drug users who would provide mules a place to stay in the city. They would either be paid in drugs or by a reduction in debts they owed.

Stanbury, Collins, and Tomney deny the charges.

Merzoug admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs at a separate hearing. (Proceeding)