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Jailed: Drug gang leader caught during Shrewsbury murder investigation

By Deborah Hardiman | Shrewsbury | Crime | Published:

A leading player in a county lines conspiracy to peddle illegal drugs in Shropshire has been jailed for more than eight years.

James Humphries

James Humphries was just 20 when he headed up a sophisticated operation involving the use of mobile phones to organise the sale of heroin and crack cocaine from the comfort of his Liverpool base to addicts in Shrewsbury and Whitchurch.

The illegal activity generated thousands of pounds for the participants.

The conspiracy involved several other defendants and came to light during the police investigation to find the killer of murder victim Michael Warham, who was found stabbed in the Meole Brace area of Shrewsbury, in 2016.

The court heard that Mr Warham's death related to a ‘turf war’ between rival Merseyside gangs operating on the estate.

Humphries, now 23, was yesterday sentenced after previously admitting conspiracy to supply class A drugs between January and August 2016.

Remorseful

Mr Michael Skelley, defending, said Humphries was remorseful of his actions. He added that he was only involved in the first six weeks of the conspiracy before being jailed in February 2016 for possession of a prohibited firearm in a separate case.

Sentencing Humphries at Shrewsbury Crown Court, Judge Peter Barrie said: “You were quite clearly a leading light early in the organising of this case, to distribute class A drugs from Liverpool to Shropshire. You were in control of the two principal mobile phones that were used to organise drug dealing.

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“You hardly set foot in Shropshire. You organised a team of others as couriers and street dealers who carried on the business. You were closely involved in preparing the drugs for retail at locations in the Wirral.”

“This was an enterprise which was set up as an illegal business to trade and to bring misery to the lives of people, caused by drug addiction and to exploit those vulnerable to temptation.” Judge Barrie also said that he recognised the defendant’s young age and his personal difficulties relating to the death of his father and mother’s illness prior to the conspiracy taking place.

However he told him: “You are somebody who made a deliberate decision during 2015 to get involved in what is cynical greed because of the money that you go out of it, while bringing misery to the lives of people in towns like Shrewsbury and Whitchurch.”

The defendant, of Speke, was sentenced to eight years and three months imprisonment. He must serve half before before being released on licence.

In 2017, a relative Declan Graves, 21, was jailed after a retrial for a minimum of 20 years for the murder of of 16 year old Michael Wareham, also of Liverpool.

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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