THEY brought heroin and crack cocaine to the streets in a bid to make thousands.
But now two brothers from Liverpool and their Portsmouth street runner are behind bars for a combined total of 23 years.
David Childs and John Donoghue made at least 25 trips each between Merseyside and the city, trafficking between 2-3.5kg of the class A drugs over a period of eight and a half months.
Winchester Crown Court heard on Friday how the brothers – who both already had convictions for supplying drugs – enlisted Luke Bowles.
The dad-to-be went out on to the streets to sell the drugs for the ‘Scouse Network’ after the other two sent out large numbers of bulk advertising text messages to addicts across the city. Sentencing, judge Susan Evans QC told the trio: ‘This was a well-organised drug conspiracy.’
All of the men admitted two charges of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, heroin and crack cocaine. Childs and Donoghue pleaded guilty on the first day of their trial.
Bowles, 31, of Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth, admitted his guilt days later ahead of his trial. He was jailed for five years and 10 months.
Childs, 34, of Frampton Road, Liverpool, was jailed for nine years.
Donoghue, 35, of Frodsham Road, Walton, was jailed for eight years and six months.
Prosecutor Andrew Houston told the court how police officers arrested Bowles after spotting him on a bike making an exchange with two others on bikes in Gamble Road, Buckland.
Officers searching him and found he had 17 wraps of cocaine and 28 wraps of heroin at various weights, worth more than £2,500. He also had £149 in cash when stopped on May 11 last year.
Donoghue and Childs had first been stopped on the M6 toll road on January 13 last year, where police found they had three mobile phones, including one with an advertising text. They quizzed but released by police.
Both were arrested on April 25 last year on the A34 and were found to have a SIM card used to send out the text messages in a Nokia phone.
Analysis of phone mast data showed the pair made 25 trips, sometimes together or apart, between September 1, 2015, and May 11, 2016.
They refused to reveal who ran the drugs network.
Damian Hayes, for Bowles, said he was living a ‘hand to mouth existence’ following a break-up with his partner at the time of the conspiracy.
In a statement released after the hearing, DC Sol Koranteng, of Hampshire police’s serious and organised crime unit, said: ‘If you come to Hampshire to deal drugs, you can expect to be investigated, prosecuted and to receive significant prison sentences.’
He added: ‘These sentences show that we will deal robustly with anyone considering coming into the force area to commit crime.’