£1.3m drug plot prison term upheld

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A DRUG dealer who was jailed for his role in a £1.3m plot to flood the north of England with cocaine has been told by top judges that he deserved every day of his jail term.

Hartlepool man Toby Jerome Ryder was part of a criminal network that trafficked large quantities of the class A drug between West Yorkshire and Liverpool.

The 34-year-old, of Leeholm Road, was locked up for five years and 11 months at Bradford Crown Court in June last year after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

He challenged his jail term at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, arguing it was ‘too long’ for his subordinate role in the plot and in light of the long delay between his arrest and sentencing.

But his appeal bid was rejected by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said the term was ‘not excessive’.

Ryder also made a bid to clear his name, claiming he had been ‘pressured’ into admitting his guilt by his lawyers, but this too was dismissed as having ‘no merit’ by the appeal court judges.

The court heard Ryder’s link to the plot’s ringleader, Kevin Booth, was discovered during the course of an undercover police operation.

Between January and July 2009, covert surveillance revealed Ryder making a number of trips south from his home, he was in regular phone contact with Booth.

In June, he travelled from Hartlepool to an address in Birkenshaw, Bradford, and stayed for 20 minutes before meeting two men who had travelled from Liverpool in a car.

Officers later stopped the car as the men made their way back to Liverpool and found 2kg of cocaine. A search of the Birkenshaw property revealed a hydraulic press and other drug-dealing paraphernalia.

Booth was caught by police after collecting nearly 5kg of the drug - worth almost £200,000 on the street - in July 2009 and Ryder was eventually arrested in September.

A further £1m of drugs was found at a safe house and mobile phone analysis revealed the extent of the drug operation and their involvement with each other.

Booth, 51, of Bingley, West Yorkshire, was jailed for 16 years after admitting conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Judge Anthony Morris QC said his sentence reflected the role he played in the ‘very significant, professional conspiracy’.

Sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Simon, he added: “The sentence imposed was neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive.”