A COUPLE from Workington have admitted drug supply charges – but a judge has accepted that they were both involved as a result of being "exploited" by higher-level criminals in a county lines operation.

At Carlisle Crown Court, David Harrison, 49, and Alison Whinn, 48, both of Main Road, High Harrington, entered guilty pleas to two allegations.

The first charge was that they were concerned in the supply of the class A drug heroin between November 9, 2018, and June 18, 2019; and the second charge was that they were both in possession of heroin with intent to supply the drug to another person.

Defence barrister Kim Whittlestone, for Whinn, said the defendant had been affected by a “significant drug addiction” for some time, though there had been a decade long gap in her offending.

In recent years, she had accumulated numerous offences of theft. Commenting on the two new offences, the barrister said it was clear that the couple were  being used by out-of-county drugs criminals.

The two defendants were involved to fund their drug habit.

Judge Nicholas Barker commented that the case involved “levels of exploitation”, including of those such as the two defendants who were at the end of a “county line” drugs supply operation.

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The judge agreed that background reports should be prepared on both defendants, but he pointed out that immediate jail sentences were likely. Brendan Burke, for Harrison, said his client was under no illusion about the sentence he was likely to get.

Adjourning the sentencing hearing until July 1, Judge Barker told the two defendants: “You have been sensible to enter guilty pleas and of course the evidence was strong.”

The judge added that both defendants were being exploited by criminals who were bringing drugs into the county. Drug users are often used by county lines drug dealers who take over their homes in order to create a local base for their dealing operations.

The so-called cuckooing operations work through a mixture of coercion and reward, with addicts given free or cheaper drugs if they cooperate.

Both defendants were granted bail.

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