Hayling Island cannabis gang jailed after ringleader attacked man on crutches

Aerial view of Eaststoke Avenue, Hayling Island in 2011. Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-715)
Aerial view of Eaststoke Avenue, Hayling Island in 2011. Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-715)
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MEMBERS of a gang involved in ‘significant drug trafficking’ were sent to jail after being busted by police who stumbled across the operation.

Officers were attempting to track down gang leader Daniel Braithwaite, 23, for a separate matter where he beat a man to the floor leaving a trainer print on his victim’s face and a ‘permanent scar’ by his eye after repeatedly booting the male’s head.

But as cops arrived at Braithwaite’s girlfriend’s address in June last year at Ocean Court, Magdala Road, Hayling Island, they became suspicious.

‘Police could see movement inside and shouted before there was a pause and someone came to the door and locked it,’ prosecutor Matthew Lawson told Portsmouth Crown Court.

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‘An officer noticed things being thrown out of the window. When the door was unlocked by (Braithwaite’s girlfriend Sonia Cooper) there was a strong smell of cannabis.’

Police found a ‘large quantity’ of the Class B drug along with cash, mobile phones and weighing scales. ‘This was large scale cannabis dealing with drug debts on their deals list showing £10,000 was owed,’ Mr Lawson said.

In total 92 grams of cannabis was seized. A list detailing transactions and individuals who owed money was also recovered.

Buddy Cairns, 18, was the third member of the gang who was caught red-handed at the address. He was found with £600 cash on him.

The capture of the dealers only came about following a previous incident involving police trying to track down hapless Braithwaite.

He was thrown out of the West Town Inn in Hayling Island during November 2017 with then under-age Harry Rymer, 18, after the pair 'smelled of cannabis’.

The pair became abusive as they left the pub before the landlord and a pub regular on crutches saw the men off. But events erupted as the defendants rounded on the male on crutches who followed them down the road.

A witness described the aftermath of the attack: ‘The victim was lying on the floor face up like he was on a cross.’

Braithwaite played the lead role in unleashing the withering beating that left the man unconscious. ‘He kicked him in the stomach twice and then the head before turning around to walk away before turning back to kick him in the head and jaw and stamp on his face. He was also seen waving the man’s crutch towards him,’ Mr Lawson said.

A ‘footprint pattern’ on the victim’s head was later confirmed to match Braithwaite’s shoe.

Judge David Melville QC sentenced Braithwaite, of Sandy Beach Estate, to 25 months’ jail after he admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

Cairns, of Selsmore Avenue, was sent to jail for seven months for supplying a Class B drug, possession of a Class B drug and malicious communication.

Cooper, 23, admitted supplying a Class B drug, was sentenced to nine months jail suspended for two years and ordered to 20 rehabilitation days.

Rymer, pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, was handed down 12 months jail suspended for two years and told to complete 100 hours unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation days.