14 jailed after drug raid on pub

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EIGHT drug dealers face almost 25 years behind bars between them after a supply ring run from an Ashington bar was smashed by a police raid.

Officers went undercover to capture suspected pushers at Base, posing as drug users during a five-month operation culminating in a raid in April last year.

Officers arrested 14 men and four women on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs, including cocaine, during the raid on the Station Road pub.

The operation was carried out in response to complaints about alleged drug dealing, damage to surrounding property and anti-social behaviour.

The bar had its licence revoked by Northumberland County Council and has since closed.

At Newcastle Crown Court on Friday, 14 defendants were sentenced to almost 30 years in prison, given 30 months’ worth of suspended sentences, three and a half years worth of community orders and around 850 hours community work.

Among those who were sentenced was owner of The Base, John Owen, of Nursery Park, Ashington.

The 29-year-old pleaded guilty to allowing his premises to be used to supply cocaine and he received four years and three months in prison.

Owen White, 21, of Ninth Row, Ashington, was described by Prosecutor, Peter Gair, as being a ‘major player’ in the drugs operation.

White, who used his parents’ garage on Duke Street, Ashington, to store cocaine, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was handed five years and eight months in prison.

White’s brother Russel, 23, of Seventh Row, Ashington, was jailed for two years for supplying cocaine on two occasions to an undercover police officer.

Martin Brennan, also of Seventh Row, Ashington, used his van to drive White to Manchester to pick up the drugs.

The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to being concerned with the supply of cocaine and received a prison sentence of two years and eight months.

George Hart, 21, of Maple Street, Ashington, also transported cocaine from Manchester to Ashington and was given two and a half years in prison.

Sean Lee, of Newbiggin Road, Ashington, pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine on three occasions.

The 21-year-old was handed two years and nine months in prison.

Care worker Jason Brown, of Bywell Road, Ashington, who also worked at The Base, supplied cocaine on seven occasions.

In addition to supplying the drug at the bar, Brown, 22, also supplied cocaine to an undercover officer outside Ashington High School.

He was handed a 30 month prison sentence.

Graham Vustoff, 21, of Ninth Row, Ashington, was served two years in prison after pleading guilty to supplying cocaine.

Christopher Glenton, 27, of Glenwood, Ashington, supplied cocaine on two occasions and received 12 months in prison suspended for two years, 150 hours of unpaid work and supervision for two years.

Base bar worker Ryan Pollard, 23, was handed an 18 months community order, plus supervision, and 100 hours of unpaid work for supplying cannabis.

Michael Milligan, 42, of Sycamore Street, Ashington, pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine on two occasions at The Base and received eight months in prison suspended for two years, 120 hours unpaid work and six months on a drugs rehabilitation programme.

Milligan’s girlfriend, Lisa Wilson, of, Marshes House, Choppington, also pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine on two occasions.

The 25-year-old, who also worked at The Base at the time, was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for two years, 120 hours unpaid work and a supervision order for 12 months.

Asha Renton, 20, of Haldane Street, Ashington, received a 12 month community order and 180 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to supplying cocaine.

Eighteen-year-old Dane Freeman, of Pont Street, Ashington, was also given a 12 month community order and 180 hours unpaid work, plus supervision, for one offence of supplying cocaine.

Judge Burn, sentencing all 14 defendants, said: “I have to sentence you for various involvement in the supply of cocaine in Ashington, going from the end of 2009 to the early part of 2010.

“The position is in general terms, that the supply of Class A drugs, including cocaine, is a very serious offence.

“Regardless if the fact that most of the people in this case were already addicts, the fact remains that cocaine is classified as a dangerous drug and anyone who supplies it for money is committing a serious offence.”

Northumberland Area Command Chief Superintendent, Mark Dennett, said: “These sentences are the culmination of one of the biggest drug operations ever carried out in Northumberland and it all started after the local community raised concerns about the way the pub was being run.

“The taking, supplying or dealing of drugs in Northumberland will not be tolerated.

“We will always act on information from the public into drugs and drug taking and will take positive action to put an end to it.”