AN organised crime gang who conspired to supply almost £437,000 of cocaine in the Portsmouth area are behind bars.
Jay Connor, 35, Brian Philpott, 53, Spencer Stent, 31, and Amanda Pennington, 47, were jailed for a total of 19 years and 10 months.
The gang received more than 3kg of high purity cocaine from an organised, London-based gang of Albanian criminals who police say were trying to infiltrate Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard on one occasion a kilogram of cocaine was delivered in the car park of a city school.
The gang used pay-as-you go mobile phones for their conspiracy.
But analysis of CCTV and mobile phone cell sites revealed calls between some of the defendants around the time of the offences, identified other suspects and linked the criminals.
The drug ring was smashed after detectives found the cocaine packages during two searches.
In the first a 995g package of cocaine at 84 per cent purity and a 1kg package of the drug at 71 per cent purity were seized on May 30 last year.
The drugs were delivered to Pennington and Martin Leverton in the Tangier Road area of Baffins.
Leverton, 41, of Hampshire Street, Portsmouth, was sentenced to three years and four months in jail last year after being convicted of possession with intent to supply cocaine.
Officers then found a kilogram of the drug at a garage in Milton Road, Milton, on July 18 last year.
The cocaine was 93 per cent pure.
Separate, smaller packages with purities ranging from 22 to 27 per cent were also found.
The court heard one of the London gang had driven to the coast and met a Fiat driven by Brian Philpott at Admiral Lord Nelson School’s car park in Dundas Lane, Portsmouth to make the delivery.
Hampshire Major Investigation Team later followed an Albanian crime group member seen meeting Stent who handed over a shoebox police believed contain cash.
Jay Connor is said to have played a ‘leading role’ in the conspiracy, meeting members of the Albanian gang in London and organising the operation.
Connor, of Main Road, Chichester, Philpott, of Wellesley Close, Waterlooville, and Stent, of Gloucester Way, Chichester, admitted conspiracy to supply drugs.
Connor was jailed for eight years, Stent for four years and eight months and Philpott for two years and eight months.
Addressing the men, Recorder Simon Privett, sentencing, said: ‘The effect of deliveries like that is to cause untold misery of addiction and debt and further crime.
‘You brought by your actions shame on yourselves, your family and your friends.’
Pennington, of South Parade, Southsea, was convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs and admitted to two counts of converting criminal property and one count of handling stolen goods. She was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
The cocaine and paraphernalia will be destroyed.
A confiscation hearing will be held next year where Stent, Connor and Pennington could be ordered to repay some of their criminal gains.
‘PAINSTAKING’ WORK OF POLICE FOILED DEALERS PLOT
THE conspirators were snared thanks to probes by Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Investigation Team (HMIT), the force’s Serious and Organised Crime Directorate and the Metropolitan Police.
Acting Det Sgt David Bone from HMIT said it was the ‘persistent and painstaking work’ of the force’s specialist detectives that made a difference in ‘delivering justice’ at court.
Analysis of mobile phones seized from Martin Leverton and Amanda Pennington along with CCTV and mobile phone cell sites led police to identify other suspects including Jay Connor and Spencer Stent.
Colleagues in the Serious and Organised Crime Directorate also gathered surveillance of Connor meeting Albanian group members in Chiswick and Richmond in May last year.
Stent was also caught on CCTV in August last year meeting a member of the organised crime group in Richmond.
Acting Det Sgt Bone said: ‘Four criminals have been prevented from causing further harm to the community.
‘This case shows we have effective techniques to catch criminals in the act of attempting to exploit a potential illegal drugs market in Portsmouth.
‘Hampshire Constabulary would like to thank the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and all members of the public who provided invaluable support to this investigation.’
DETECTIVES SEIZED MORE THAN 3KG OF HARD DRUGS
IN the first delivery a member of the Albanian gang delivered a package to Amanda Pennington and Martin Leverton in the Tangier Road area of Baffins on May 30 last year.
Officers followed a black Vauxhall Zafira driven by Pennington and stopped Leverton as he left the car. He was found to be carrying almost 2kg of cocaine, wrapped in black socks and a mobile phone.
Officers found £2,000 cash in Pennington’s handbag. A mobile phone was also seized.
Officers then found a kilogram of the class A drug at a garage in Milton Road, Milton, on July 18 last year.
The cocaine was 93 per cent pure. Two microwave bags - one containing 112g of cocaine and the other containing 243g - were also found.
Officers seized a bag containing 50.8g of the class A drug and 716g of cutting agent benzocaine.
The court heard one of the London gang had driven to the coast and met a Fiat driven by Brian Philpott at Admiral Lord Nelson School’s car park in Dundas Lane, Portsmouth to pass on the stash.
The Fiat was then driven to Milton Road where Philpott removed a yellow bucket and took it to an address.
He then drove off, but was later stopped by police who seized two mobile phones.
Officers searched the Milton Road garage and found the cocaine in the bucket.