County Lines drug dealer caught in Harrogate after banging into a tree and falling flat on his face
A ‘County Lines’ drug dealer who tried to make a run for it after police caught him with bags of heroin and crack cocaine was literally stumped after banging into a tree branch and falling flat on his face.
Heroin and cocaine dealer jailed after being caught red-handed in HarrogateRommel Morgan, 24, was spotted by plain-clothed officers on the streets of Harrogate where he was carrying out a drug deal with an unknown female.
Morgan, who was carrying over 100 bags of heroin and cocaine, made a dash for it after being clocked by officers on Woodfield Road, but his forlorn getaway was short-lived, York Crown Court heard.
“Officers walked towards him and he ran off, (but) collided with the branch of a tree and fell to the floor,” said prosecutor Louise Pryke.
As Morgan fell, packets of heroin and cocaine, along with bundles of cash, spilled onto the ground. He was arrested and found with 78 wraps of crack cocaine weighing just under 6g, and 31 wraps of heroin, as well as £208 in cash.
The brazen dealer told police he knew nothing about the drugs or the money and was given bail pending further enquiries into the incident on February 13.
But six months later he was at it again, when officers spotted him and another man looking decidedly shifty outside a Co-op store on Skipton Road, on August 30.
“Police followed him and asked him to stop, but he… carried on walking,” said Ms Pryke. Morgan and the other male ended up at Carpenter Court, a warden-controlled housing block for people with mental-health difficulties in Knapping Hill, where the other man lived.
Morgan had bolted inside the block of flats by the time police arrived. The other man, described as “extremely nervous”, was stood outside and told police that Morgan was inside his flat and had his keys.
Police went inside the block and found Morgan “surrounded” by drug packets. During his arrest, Morgan’s phone was “ringing constantly”.
The phone was part of a ‘County Lines’ drug enterprise based in Bradford and it appeared that the other man, who was named in court, had had his flat taken over in what is known as ‘cuckooing’ – a favoured method of the drug suppliers to turn vulnerable people’s homes into drug bases for their iniquitous trade.
Inside the flat, police found 57 packages, or just over 5g, of high-strength crack cocaine, and a similar amount of heroin in 46 packets. They also found £615 hidden in Morgan’s sock.
Officers seized his phone which showed “numerous” drug orders on text messages for both heroin and cocaine.
“In (police) interview he again denied dealing drugs,” said Ms Pryke. “He said he had met (the named man) at a party and sometimes slept on his sofa.”
The court heard that Morgan, of Ilbert Avenue, Bradford, had previous convictions for three robberies in 2011 and supplying heroin in 2013. His most recent conviction was for carrying a knife in public, which resulted in a six-month jail sentence in May this year.
That offence occurred in April – just two months after he was first arrested and bailed for the drug offences. Morgan was released from jail halfway through his sentence for knife possession and was on prison licence when he was caught with drugs for a second time in August, not long after his release.
He ultimately admitted four counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and two counts of possessing criminal property, namely £823 of drug money.
Defence barrister Robert Mochrie claimed that Morgan was merely a foot soldier in the ‘County Lines’ operation, carrying out orders on behalf of suppliers “further up the chain”.
He said Morgan had been sent to Harrogate to sell drugs and that he and the other named man had been “used” by their drug overlords.
Judge Simon Hickey condemned Morgan for having the audacity to carry on dealing after being released on bail.
“This was significant street-level dealing,” added the judge. “You were part of ‘County Lines’ drug-dealing from Bradford to Harrogate. You must have been a trusted member of a drug-supply chain.”
Mr Hickey said the other man caught up in the drug-dealing enterprise “appears to be a very vulnerable individual”. Morgan was jailed for six years and nine months, of which he will serve half behind bars.