Hartlepool man denies being a ‘trusted lieutenant’ in major drugs gang

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An alleged trusted lieutenant of a Hartlepool drug-dealing network helped to set up a cocaine deal with partners in Liverpool, a court heard.

Richard Ryan, 36, travelled to the North West in August 2013 and texted his home postcode to an unknown member of the Liverpool gang, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The next day, one kilo of high purity cocaine was delivered to Ryan’s home address in Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, where an exchange involving his brother Lee Ryan took place.

The courier was later stopped in Middlesbrough and found to have £44,000 in cash in a designer clothes bag.

Richard Ryan’s palm print was found on a £20 note in the cash along with a receipt from his credit card.

Teesside Crown Court also heard that Ryan travelled to a drugs factory in a house in Liverpool at the end of January 2014 to help mix a quantity of amphetamine.

The prosecution allege he was sent on the instructions of Adrian Morfitt, 29, of Caistor Drive, Hartlepool, who is said to be one of the lynchpins of the Hartlepool drug dealing organisation.

Ryan said he went at the request of his contact in Liverpool, Keith Watson.

The court also heard Ryan was found with Morfitt and Watson in a car stopped by police in Hartlepool on April 19, 2013, when Ryan ran off.

Ryan said Watson was in town to buy a dog and claimed he fled because there was a warrant out for him for not paying a fine.

Ryan has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine, but disputes the length and level of his involvement.

Judge Peter Armstrong is due to make his ruling this morning.