Drug dealer who lived in luxury is jailed

A DRUGS kingpin who lived the life of luxury while flooding Northumberland with crack cocaine has been jailed for 18 years.

Neil John Barratt spent more time abroad on holidays then in the UK watching over his drugs empire, enjoying lavish homes in plush Northumberland towns and driving flash cars between cocaine warehouses to keep his business under control.

But Barratt's drugs empire was cracked when police installed a hidden bugging device in his black N-reg Mercedes and uncovered a massive cocaine racket stretching centred in Ashington but being run across Northumberland.

He was arrested and his racket was dismantled when he savagely attacked a rival with a shovel, causing severe head and facial injuries as well as broken limbs in a revenge punishment attack.

His victim spent months recovering in hospital.

But now Barratt, who enjoyed a home in the lavish Darras Hall estate in Ponteland, is starting an 18-year jail sentence after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and causing GBH with intent.

Derwick Ramsay, 39, was jailed for eight years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine.

Robert Woodcock QC, prosecuting at Newcastle Crown Court, said Ramsay, of Dandsfield Square, Amble, tried to flee from officers when they raided a key cocaine warehouse in Winchester Close, Ashington.

The gang were cutting their cocaine with blenders to sell on, and there was so much powder in the air that one police officer was treated in hospital for poisoning after the raid, Mr Woodcock QC said.

The group's right-hand man Steven Ross Miller, 26, of College Place, Ashington, was jailed for five years.

Counterfeit DVD seller David Jones, 51, of Hendon, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting being part of the conspiracy.

Couriers Gavin Young, 28, of Pont Street, and Kevin Thompson, 44, of St Alban's Close, both Ashington, were jailed for two years and three years respectively.

Prosecutors now hope to pursue a proceeds of crime hearing to claw back some of the profits Barratt and his gang made.