A convicted Carlisle criminal has gone on trial accused of running a heroin operation from his prison cell.

Stuart Brian Hardy, 28, appeared at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday alongside Avril Fallows, 47, of Wedgewood Road, Flimby.

Both deny conspiracy to supply heroin between November 6, 2017, and October 5, 2018.

Hardy, previously of Scalegate Road, Carlisle - who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for previous crimes - is also charged with conspiracy to supply the controlled class B drug spice during the same 11-month period. He pleaded guilty to that offence.

Opening the case prosecutor Brendan Burke explained that Avril Fallows was in a relationship with the defendant’s father Stuart Lee Hardy, 48, who has admitted conspiracy to supply the class A drug.

Mr Burke said she had started living with him at his Carlisle home in Yewdale Road, where police found about £35,000 of heroin.

“The starting point is that Hardy junior is in prison,” said Mr Burke. “It is an unhappy fact that our prisons seem to be awash with mobile phones. People get them in and people use them for all sorts of things. In Hardy junior’s case, for crime.

“We say in respect of his father and Avril Fallows, he is directing things from prison by phone.

“Being in prison doesn’t present any problem in running drugs conspiracy as long as you have got phones.”

The prosecutor said that while Hardy junior is “the engine of all this”, running the operation from prison, he needs people who can run around picking things up and dropping things off.

“Those two people are his father and unfortunately Miss Farrows. I say unfortunately because before she became involved with this family was living a normal life with a normal job,” he said.

Mr Burke told the jury “hundreds” of messages were exchanged between the three and while the messages don’t implicitly refer to heroin, this was the drug that was found at Hardy senior’s home on October 4, 2018.

“Clearly something else is being dealt,” said the prosecutor.

The court heard 270g of heroin was found on a coffee table at the address. “It doesn’t seem much,” said Mr Burke, “but it is a serious amount of heroin.”

Police, he said, also found lists of names and amounts. A safe in the house was empty but Mr Burke said: “There was plenty of cash flying around.”

He added that a bank account was set up by Hardy senior with his son’s telephone number and email address in order for him to access it from prison. “There is money going into that account - we say, the proceeds of the drugs trade - and it’s getting sent to other people.

Fallows was granted bail. The trial continues.