Hartlepool drugs baron faces jail after admitting part in organised crime group

Adrian Morfitt

Adrian Morfitt

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A town drugs baron is facing a long jail sentence after he admitted dealing at least 11 kilos of cocaine as one of the key members of an organised crime group in Hartlepool.

Adrian Morfitt, 29, is said by prosecutors to be one of the “lynchpins” of a major Hartlepool dealing network which was buying drugs from a larger criminal organisation in the North West.

Teesside Crown Court yesterday heard he accepts dealing in around 11 kilos of cocaine worth around £500,000 at wholesale value.

But his lawyer said he was more heavily involved in dealing in class B drugs including amphetamine.

Morfitt is one of 16 defendants waiting to be sentenced for their role in the cross Pennine conspiracy worth millions of pounds.

His main partner in crime is said to have been 30-year-old David Garside, of Hampstead Gardens, Hartlepool, who appeared in court last week.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said: “Mr Morfitt and Mr Garside are the lynchpins of the organised crime group in Hartlepool.”

He claimed the 11 kilos of cocaine seized by police was a “snapshot” into the level of dealing that had been going on.

Mr Makepeace added: “The Crown say it is a snapshot of trade when the drugs were recovered on that day.

“This is obviously reflective of a much larger scale deal.”

Jonathan Anders, representing Morfitt, of Caistor Drive, Hartlepool, said he would argue the cocaine seizure was reflective of his overall involvement in dealing class A drugs.

Mr Anders added: “He was a substantial class B dealer, less so class A.”

The court earlier heard how Morfitt was caught in a car with Keith Watson, one of the ringleaders of the North West organised crime group in Hartlepool in April 2013.

Police recovered small amounts of cocaine and cannabis said by the judge to have been samples along with a list of buyers.

Also in the car was 36-year-old Richard Ryan, of Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, who became a trusted member of the dealing operation.

Judge Peter Armstrong said: “The inference can be drawn the defendant was being met and approved for future business.

“Certainly he was trusted by those higher up the hierarchy of the conspiracy.”

Ryan, who is close friends with both Morfitt and Garside, travelled to Liverpool to help set up a cocaine exchange in Hartlepool, not said to have involved Morfitt or Garside.

Ryan also went to Liverpool in January 2014 where he was due to help mix amphetamine.

Eighty kilos of amphetamine base was later found at the house which when mixed would have produced 200 kilos of amphetamine worth £500,000 wholesale and £2 million on the street.

Ryan and other gang members carried out complex manoeuvres to try and prevent them being followed including switching cars.

But Ryan got spooked when he spotted an undercover police officer and drove back to Hartlepool.

Full details of how the two gangs operated between 2012 and 2014 will be revealed when the defendants are sentenced from Monday.

It is expected to take at least three days.