Man found not guilty of involvement in one kilo heroin deal
A man arrested in a car carrying a kilo of heroin has been cleared of dealing drugs.
Hartlepool man Ryan Maddren told a court he knew the drugs were in the car, but they were nothing to do with him.
Maddren was charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs after police tracked the car on a journey from Middlesbrough to Liverpool, and back to the North East.
Teesside Crown Court heard one of the men involved in the Liverpool trip, Kristopher Millward, has pleaded guilty to drugs charges.
The other man in the car, David Butler, stood trial with Maddren and seven other men, all accused of conspiring to supply class A drugs.
"I knew Mr Millward as a friend of my flatmate," said Maddren.
"He rang one day when I was at my girlfriend's and asked if I wanted to come for a drive.
"Me and the girlfriend had been getting on top of one another, so I agreed just to get out of the house.
"When the car pulled up, Mr Millward was with a man I now know to be David Butler.
"I got into the back of the car, there was a bit of a strange atmosphere."
Maddren told the jury he didn't ask where they were going, but during the journey he was told the destination was Liverpool.
"I didn't know what to make of it," he said, "It seemed a long way to go just to speak to someone when you could talk to them on the phone.
"When we arrived at the house, I was told to go in and wait in the hall.
"Mr Butler went upstairs to use the toilet, Mr Millward went into the lounge with the occupier of the house and shut the door.
"I thought they wanted to have a private conversation."
Maddren said that on the way back from Liverpool, Millward told him there was a kilo of heroin in the car.
"Mr Millward said if we were stopped by the police I would have to stand for it, tell the police the drugs were mine," Maddren told the jury.
"I was shocked and frightened, having got myself involved in something I would never do.
"We stopped at a services, and I was told to wait in the car.
"I thought about leaving the car, but I was terrified and felt intimidated."
The court heard police stopped the car as it arrived at Millward's address in Middlesbrough.
Maddren made no comment when interviewed by detectives.
Lee Marklew, defending Maddren, asked him why he had not told the police the full story.
"I was too frightened to do that," said Maddren. "I was thinking about myself and my family.
"I couldn't say the drugs were mine when they were not, so I said nothing."
Maddren, 23, of Mariners Point, Hartlepool, was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs between December, 2015, and October, 2016.
Another alleged member of the gang, Kevin McCulley, 39, of Croxteth, Liverpool, was found not guilty of the same charge.
The following were convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs: Carl Hannan, 34, of Caithness Road, Normanby. David Butler, 47, of Wrensfield Road, Stockton. Robert Hutchinson, 31 of Hutton Road, Eston, Colin McNally, 46, of Newburn, Newcastle, Mark Robinson, 37, of Oxford Street, Middlesbrough, Simon Robinson, 33, of Oriel Close, Middlesbrough. Gordon McKenzie, 33, formerly of Teessville, Middlesbrough.
Judge Howard Crowson adjourned passing sentence on those found guilty to a date to be fixed. Judge Crowson remanded all those found guilty in custody.