Seven members of a drug gang were jailed for a total of 44 years today at Teesside Crown Court.
The gang’s half a million pound haul, one of the biggest ever found in Harrogate, was discovered after police raids in December 2012.
Drug dealers had buried £30,000 worth of drugs in Stonefall Cemetery and stored drugs with a street value of £474,000 in their homes and at a garage in Harrogate.
Gang Leader Joseph McIntyre, 37, of Fountains Avenue and his partner Fay Read, 24, also of Fountains Avenue lived the high life on the proceeds of their crimes, with flash holidays and cars, said the prosecution.
Ring leader McIntyre was jailed for 16 years. Sentencing, Judge Anthony Briggs said: “It is clear that Joseph McIntyre was the mastermind behind this.
“Clearly this was a big operation, you got other people to take the risks of transporting and storing the drugs and spent the proceeds.”
Read was sentenced to three years and 364 days behind bars for her involvement, leaving behind the couple’s four-year-old son.
Judge Briggs said: “I have taken into account you have a child. Your role was mainly to assist Joseph, but you did spend the proceeds.”
Defending McIntyre, Simon Kealy said that the scale of the operation was not as sophisticated and the amount of money being made was not as large as the prosecution believed.
Mr Kealy denied that McIntyre’s wheelie bin cleaning business, which shut down in 2012, was merely a disguise for illegal activities and said it was an attempt to make a living through a legitimate means.
He said: “If it was just a cover one could think of a more pleasant business than cleaning wheelie bins.”
Barrister Christopher Smith called on Judge Briggs to consider the impact of a lengthy prison sentence Read’s child.
He said: “She will miss being a mother in those wonderful early years of raising a child.”
He added: “She entered into this with a degree of naivity and was under the influence of others due to her relationship with someone with more criminal experience.”
Judge Briggs agreed to sentence Read to 3 years and 364 days in jail, rather than four years, meaning she could qualify for a home detention curfew.
Other gang members facing lengthy prison terms include Joseph McIntyre’s brother Thomas McIntyre, 31, of Bilton Drive and trained nurse, Victoria Clayton, 55, of Albert Street, Harrogate.
Thomas McIntyre, Joseph’s brother was jailed for six years for his role in the drug peddling gang.
His defence played down the part he played. Richard Reed said: “Essentially he is a lazy individual who rarely seems to leave home and his involvement was very limited.”
Eight members of the Harrogate drug gang were found guilty after a two month trial at Teesside Crown Court – one co-conspirator, Martin Clayton, 50, of Forest Grange Close pleaded guilty at an early hearing.
Incriminating text messages between Clayton and his wife, Victoria were used as evidence during the trial.
She claimed a text from her husband which said, ‘get the kitchen ready to do a big mix,” was a typo and it should have read ‘do a big mex’, referring to Mexican food.
However the jury found her guilty of all charges she faced including conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and money laundering.
The nurse was jailed for five years. Defending Miss Denise Breen-Lawton said that Clayton was naïve to the operation.
She said: “It is clear that her husband, Martin Clayton, brought the drugs into her home and her life.
“There was no high living, she was naïve and didn’t know the value of the drugs or the drug chain. She has been ostracised by her family and is scared to go to prison.”
The gang members were arrested after a raid on several address in Harrogate in December 2012 when police found heroin, cocaine and amphetamines with a street value of £475,000.
The almost half a million pound haul was indicative of a much larger operation, prosecution barrister Robert Stevenson told the court.
He said: “This is just the stock they had at the time. There must have been considerable involvement to deal with these very large quantities of drugs. There was evidence of high living and there must be considerable sums of money still concealed to this day.”
Part of the haul was found at the legitimate garage business owned by the husband of Julie Scruton, 45, of Lime Street.
Police had witnessed her visiting the garage out of hours some 74 times, often dropping off packages and meeting members of the McIntyre family.
The court heard that Julie Scruton was ‘far from the top of the chain’. She was sentenced to
six years imprisonment.
The jury were unable to come to a conclusion on Scruton’s husband, David Scruton’s involvement.
James Kenny, 30, of Partington Avenue, Bootle, Merseyside was sentenced to 30 months in jail for his minor role. He was described as ‘more gofer than courier’ by barrister Frank Dillon.
Russell Baker, 35, of Robert Street, Harrogate, was jailed for was sentenced to four and half years after being found guilty of of four counts of conspiracy to supply drugs – heroin, cocaine, meta-amphetamine and amphetamine.
He was also charged with a variety of burglary offences, including handling stolen goods, and going equipped for theft which he carried out while on bail.
The court heard that Baker was at a very low ebb and had attempted suicide while on bail and barrister John Harrison said: “He role was a lesser role, he is at the bottom of the heap.”
The McIntyre brothers’ sister, Philomena McIntyre, was also found guilty of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and will be sentenced at a later date.
Joseph McIntyre, 37, of Fountains Avenue, Harrogate was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and one count of converting criminal property, namely cash. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Fay Read, 24, of Fountains Avenue, Harrogate was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and one count of converting criminal property, namely cash. She was sentenced to three years and 364 days in prison.
Thomas McIntyre, 31, of Bilton Drive, Harrogate was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Russell Baker also known as Russell Hepworth, 35, of Robert Street, Harrogate was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. He was sentenced to four and half years in prison.
Victoria Clayton, 55, of Albert Place, Harrogate, was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and one count of converting criminal property, namely cash. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
Julie Scruton, 45, of Lime Street, Harrogate was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and one count of converting criminal property, namely cash. She was sentenced to six years in prison.
James Kenny, 30, Partington Avenue, Bootle, was convicted of four counts of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.