Heroin dealt near children’s centre

A drugs gang dealt heroin just yards from where children were playing, a court heard.

As children played at the Sure Start Centre in Blyth, Dawn Brown and her acquaintances were selling the class A drug, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

A total of 11 people were caught pedalling heroin on the streets of Blyth as part of the police’s undercover Operation Button, which took place between March and August last year, with five receiving prison sentences.

Dawn Brown was identified as the main commercial street dealer who provided heroin on request while Michael Johnson was also found to be selling the drug from his home in Hortondale Grove.

Undercover officers made contact with a user who then got in touch with Brown.

After making contact, they repeatedly got in touch with her to place orders with the deals being carried out in a cut near the Sure Start centre.

Speaking about a deal on July 1 last year, prosecutor Jolyon Perks said: “She arrived at the Sure Start cut, pulled a Kinder egg from her bra and handed over two £10 wraps of heroin.

“The police noticed the Sure Start cut was overlooked by a children’s play area.”

A total of eight deals were carried out by Brown either from the cut or her home address in Beaumont Street, with Mandy Cranson carrying out a delivery on her behalf on one occasion.

Brian Mitchell was caught on five occasions selling heroin and diazepam, with one deal being carried out in Renwick Road while he had his three-year-old son on his shoulders.

Mr Perks said that a couple of Mitchell’s deals were completed at the address in Hortondale Grove he shared with Michael and Emma Johnson

He added that Michael Johnson was responsible for nine deals, some for £125, as well as £10 wraps.

Undercover officers also made contact with Gary Wilkie who sold heroin on June 6 and on four further occasions sold officers diazepam.

Mark Reith dealt on five occasions to the undercover officers, the court was told.

Other people who were caught dealing drugs as part of the operation were Anthony Proctor, David Bates, Christopher Miller, and Michael Brown, who all carried out one heroin deal each.

The Blyth gang – Bates, 35, of Windmill Grove; Dawn Brown, 46; Michael Brown, 27, of Gladstone Street; Cranson, 39, Milldale Avenue; Emma Johnson, 32; Michael Johnson, 49; Miller, 35, of Hambledon Street; Mitchell, 37; Proctor, 41, of Marlow Street; Reith, 38, of no fixed abode; and Wilkie, 37, of Ingoe Close – all pleaded guilty to supplying a class A drug.

Mitchell and Wilkie also pleaded guilty to supplying a class C drug while Johnson also pleaded guilty to possessing a class A drug with intent.

Dawn Brown was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison; Wilkie was jailed for 15 months; while Mitchell, Reith and Michael Johnson were each jailed for four years.

Proctor and Bates both received 15-month prison terms suspended for two years; Cranson to 12 months, suspended for 18 months; Emma Johnson to 18 months suspended for two years; Miller to nine months suspended for two years; and Michael Brown was given a 12-month community order.

Judge John Evans said: “They were willing to supply whoever asked for it and they also chose to do a lot of the dealing in a place where one might have expected a lot of young children.

“It may be they just didn’t care or maybe they chose it deliberately thinking the police might not be attracted to that area.”

Defence barristers for the gang said they were all addicts themselves and had been dealing in order to fund their own habits.