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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Cumbrian drug pairs' plea to cut jail term rejected

Two criminals who were part of a conspiracy to flood west Cumbria’s streets with drugs have failed to overturn lengthy jail terms.

Steven Smith, 32, and mum-of-six Angela Clark were part of a nine-strong gang who were snared by an undercover police sting.

Smith, from Dearham, near Maryport, ran the gang’s drugs supply operation in west Cumbria. He was convicted of conspiring to supply cocaine and mephedrone and jailed for 10-and-a-half years.

Clark, 52, of Robert Owen Avenue, Cleator Moor, who was convicted of conspiring to supply mephedrone and possessing amphetamine, was jailed for three years.

Lord Justice McCombe, sitting with two other top judges, ruled that the appeals lodged by the pair – as well as two other members of the gang – had no merit.

As he passed sentence at the original hearing last year, Judge Paul Batty QC highlighted the scourge of hard drugs in west Cumbria, telling the defendants they had been involved in a “loathsome trade” for profit.

“I have heard evidence... of the particular problems of cocaine in west Cumbria and the corrosive effect it has had on the lives of those who have themselves become addicts and in addition and extremely worrying the effects that mephedrone also is having in west Cumbria.”

The Appeal Court judges quoted judge Batty’s comment to Smith in the dock, when he told him: “You were the leader of the west Cumbrian criminal outfit. You obtained bulked up cocaine from [another] for onward wholesale distribution to others in the chain of distribution...”

The judges said Judge Batty was right to not give Smith a bigger reduction in his sentence.

Smith had run two businesses – The Sun Kissed Tanning Salon in Maryport, and Smith’s Gym in Cockermouth – described as a “convenient shield” for his criminal activities.

Nor were the judges impressed by the appeal of Clark, saying that Judge Batty was right to conclude that she played a significant role in the drugs plot.

In conclusion, the judges said that all four appeals were “wholly unmeritorious” and should never have been lodged in the first place.

The judges also threw out appeals lodged by Roger Fox, 39, of Greta Avenue, Morton, Carlisle, jailed for nine years and nine months for conspiring to supply cocaine during 2012; and the gang’s ringleader Luke Babester, 39, from Kendal, who was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of conspiring to supply cocaine, money laundering, and converting money into counterfeit coins.

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