'County lines' drug link is denied by three in court
Three people on trial for allegedly helping Liverpool dealers peddle heroin and cocaine in Shrewsbury came to the attention of police in a sweeping 'county lines' operation.
A phone used by Erin Vesayaporn, 38, sent and received texts from a ‘pool phone’ which was used by the dealers on Merseyside to arrange orders.
Meanwhile Shaun King, 21 from Liverpool, was spotted by covert officers accompanying Dean Pritchard as he paid several visits to parked cars in Shrewsbury, the court heard.
Pritchard has already admitted his part in the drugs conspiracy which stretched from a house in York Road, Shrewsbury, up to Merseyside through Cheshire and which was discovered in 2015.
And earlier that year Clare Ring, 48, had hired a rental car which Pritchard was later arrested in, without insurance or a licence.
Vesayaporn, of Wayford View in Dorrington, Ring, of Featherbed Lane in Sundorne, and King were arrested after a police operation over the course of 2015, which has seen several others already admit their part in the conspiracy.
Dubbed Operation Insulate, it included analysis of texts to and from six ‘pool phones’, which would send out dozens of messages at a time throughout the dealers’ network.
Police also monitored cars that were known to be used by others in the conspiracy, which were spotted by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras making journeys between Liverpool and Shrewsbury.
In July of 2015 police raided the house in York Road where they found crack cocaine, heroin and a list of names with monetary amounts written next to them.
Vesayaporn, Ring and King all deny conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and being concerned in the supply of drugs at Shrewsbury Crown Court.
Prosecutor Graham Russell opened the case against them on Tuesday, and on Wednesday he called Detective Constable Rachel Harrower of West Mercia Police’s serious and organised crime unit to give evidence.
She confirmed the text message records, which tracked messages between several phones including the pool phones, Pritchard’s, Harley’s and Vesayaporn’s.
Then Sergeant Mark White gave evidence. He had been responsible for observing Dean Pritchard on a night in November 2015.
He told the court that in the early hours he saw Pritchard and another man who wore a baseball cap approach a Volkswagen Golf and spend 'a couple of minutes' by the passenger side door.
Mr Russell said the prosecution case was that the man with the baseball cap was King, and King’s representative Kevin Jones indicated that he would accept that.
But under cross-examination from Mr Jones, Sergeant White admitted that none of the photos showed King inside the car.
All three defendants deny both offences and the trial continues.