Two Hartlepool men dubbed the ringleaders of a multi-million pound drug dealing network were today jailed for more than 23 years
Adrian Morfitt and David Garside were handed hefty sentences for their part in a huge drugs conspiracy.
Morfitt was jailed for 12 years, and Garside for 11 years and eight months at Teesside Crown Court.
They are among 19 people, including nine from the town, being sentenced for their role in the cross-Pennine conspiracy to produce and supply vast quantities of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.
Prosecutors say the level of class A drugs being dealt between the Hartlepool organisation and bigger North West gang are even higher than amounts in the top sentencing guideline category.
Morfitt and Garside, both 30, are considered to be the leaders of the organised crime gang, along with Ian Stanton and Keith Watson, from Liverpool, who are also facing long sentences.
He recruited others, sourced suppliers and customers and jointly with Morfitt was responsible for the organisation of commercial processing and distribution of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis on a very substantial scale.
Barrister Christopher Stables, mitigating for Garside, of Hampstead Gardens, said he was expecting a prison term in double figures, but could be sentenced within the guidelines.
Mr Stables said: “This defendant was one of a number of customers of the North West group. It must follow that group was substantially larger than the group in Hartlepool.”
Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said Garside was at the centre of the drug dealing along with Mofitt, of Caistor Drive, Hartlepool.
They have both admitted conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.
Mr Makepeace said: “He recruited others, sourced suppliers and customers and jointly with Morfitt was responsible for the organisation of commercial processing and distribution of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis on a very substantial scale.
“There was an expectation of very substantial financial reward. Clearly the quantity of drugs, even on a snapshot of 12 kilos of cocaine, it is substantially higher than the up to five kilos of class A drugs in category one [of the sentencing guidelines].”
Mr Stables said Garside’s profits from the dealing would likely be seized by the authorities under Proceeds of Crime action.
He said Garside would miss out on seeing his 18-month-old son grow and added: “He is already planning how he can use his time [in prison] constructively so he never appears before the court again.”
The court heard Darren Crossley, 31, of Galsworthy Road, Hartlepool, got involved in cocaine deals to try and rescue his struggling business.
Crossley was arrested after police watched him take a delivery of a kilo of the drug, which was 83 per cent pure, from a Liverpool courier, on October 31, 2013.
A ‘dirty phone’ used for other deals was also linked to him.
Caroline Goodwin, mitigating, said: “He was driven to becoming involved because of a personal debt he found himself in because of his failing business.
“He has lost his home.”
Most of the defendants, including Garside and Morfitt are due to be sentenced today.