TWENTY-THREE members of five organised crime groups have been sentenced to a total of 132 years in prison for their part in a major drugs operation spanning the Midlands and South West.
The groups, based in Cannock and Stafford, Walsall, Swadlincote, Redditch and Swindon, pleaded guilty in earlier hearings at Stafford Crown Court to conspiracy to supply either class A or class B drugs.
They were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court this week (October 3, 4 and 5).
The court heard that cocaine and MCAT (a class B synthetic stimulant drug) was being transported through the group’s links in Swindon, Derbyshire and the West Midlands.
The operation to bring them to justice was led by Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime department which investigated the organised crime group (OCG) based in Cannock and led by John Appleton and Michael O’ Mahoney.
Detectives tracked the movements of Appleton and O’ Mahoney after their release from prison in 2013, after they formed a tight-knit Cannock group with Jason Bayley, Carol Pope, Derek Hodgkiss and Russell Degg.
Bayley and Pope were the trusted couriers of drugs and money, whilst Hodgkiss acted as Pope’s driver. Degg provided a safe-house for storage in Repton Close, Cannock, as the group initially supplied MCAT and cocaine to another group in Swindon, Wiltshire.
Detectives tracked the group’s activity, through phone analysis and vehicle movements along the M6 and M5.
On 28 February 2015, arrests were made when a quantity of cocaine and two kilos of MCAT were supplied to Gary and Keith Peapell near to junction 11A of the M5 in Gloucestershire.
The rural area of Crickley Hill Country Park became a significant meeting place for members of the two crime groups.
Adam Farmer, David Perkins and Lee Higgins were part of a group in Redditch which was supplied with multiple quantities of MCAT by the Cannock group.
On 4 March 2015, following an exchange with Higgins, Carol Pope was stopped in a car in Cannock and £35,000 was discovered in the foot-well. Fingerprints were discovered on a cash bag which linked the Redditch and Swindon groups.
On 16 March 2015 Jason Bayley was due to meet Lewis Chambers in a deal brokered by Jamie Sleigh on behalf of the Cannock and West Midlands crime groups at the Chase Gate pub, Wolverhampton Road, Cannock, when he was intercepted and arrested by officers with 4kg of MCAT in a bag.
The Cannock group also formed links with Shane Andrews and the Stafford group. Darren Pearson, who later acted as a warehouseman for the Cannock group following earlier enforcement, then went on to supply Andrews with half a kilo of cocaine.
The crime group were proven to have well-established links with Gareth Pincombe, head of the Derbyshire crime group.
John Appleton and Michael O’Mahoney ran out of runners and dealers as detectives closed in on the group. He asked his son, Bret Appleton, to collect MCAT, but Bret was arrested on his return from Swadlincote with 3kg of MCAT.
- John Appleton, aged 46, of Locketts Court, Cannock, sentenced to 14 years
- Michael O’ Mahoney, aged 43, of Avenue Road, Cannock, sentenced to 14 years
- Gary Peapell, aged 38, of Swindon, sentenced to 8 years 8 months
- Adam Farmer, aged 35, of Kineton Close, Redditch, sentenced to 8 years 6 months
- Shane Andrews, aged 35, of John Donne Street, Stafford, sentenced to 8 years
- Gareth Pincombe, aged 38, of Repton Road, Swadlincote, sentenced to 8 years 2 months
- Jason Bayley, aged 45, of Leamington Close, Cannock, sentenced to 8 years
- Carol Pope, aged 44, of Glover Street, Cannock, sentenced to 7 years 2 months
- Darren Pearson, aged 46, of Moss Street, Cannock, sentenced to 7 years 2 months
- Jamie Wilson, aged 38, of Sidney Avenue, Stafford, sentenced to 6 years 9 months
- Keith Peapell, aged 62, Swindon, sentenced to 6 years
- Russell Degg, aged 40, of Repton Close, Cannock, sentenced to 6 years
- Scott Kenny, aged 32, of Mosedale, Rugby, sentenced to 5 years 4 months
- Lewis Chambers, aged 26, of Hillary Street, Walsall, sentenced to 4 years
- Lucy Butler, aged 35, of Sanderling Close, Featherstone, sentenced to 4 years
- Richard Menzies, aged 33, of Meadow View Road, Swadlincote, sentenced to 3 years 7 months
- Jamie Sleigh, aged 37, of St John’s Road, Cannock, sentenced to 3 years 7 months
- David Perkins, aged 31, of Hindlip Close, Redditch, sentenced to 3 years 4 months
- Bret Appleton, aged 25, of Locketts Court, Cannock, sentenced to 20 months
- Derek Hodgkiss, aged 56, of St John’s Road, Cannock, received a 17 month suspended sentence
- Lee Higgins, aged 32, of Fownhope Close, Redditch, received an 11-month suspended sentence.
On 13 December 2016 Matthew Parsons, aged 34, of Lower Birches Way, Rugeley, was sentenced to a total of 3 years 6 months for class A and class B supply.
On 7 April 2017 Kyle Wilson, aged 19, of Merrivale Road, Stafford, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class B drugs and was sentenced to 14 months’ detention in a youth offenders’ institution.
Inspector Pete Cooke, of Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime team, said: “These sentences reflect the commitment and hard work of officers. We’re delighted to see offenders who have preyed on the vulnerable in our communities behind bars for a considerable period of time.
“All of them played a significant role in fuelling drug crime in south Staffordshire and elsewhere across the Midlands and South West and their sentences are very much welcomed.
“Staffordshire Police is committed to tackling drug crime in our communities and our work will continue under Operation Nemesis.”
If you suspect drug dealing in your community please call Staffordshire Police on 101 or the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.