A south Warwickshire man has denied involvement in the distribution and sale of huge quantities of cocaine which led to the seizure of just under £1 million worth of the drugs at a woman's house.
But even that was just a fraction of the staggering 100-plus kilos of cocaine which the prosecution at Warwick Crown Court suggest had passed through the hands of the drug conspirators.
Based on prices per kilo which had been given to the jury by prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith, that would represent a value of trafficked illegal drugs of between £2.8 and £3.5 million.
Standing trial are Lewis Mowatt (29) of Spinney Close, Lighthorne Heath; Stacie Burdett (34) of Hood Road, Daventry; and Caroline Dalley (55) of Sturdee Close, Daventry, who have all denied conspiring to supply cocaine.
With them in the dock is Jordan Swain (28) of Admirals Way, Daventry, who has pleaded not guilty to possessing a gun said to have been found with his fingerprints on it.
Several other people, including Christopher Reeve (43) of Montgomery Drive, Rugby, who is said to have been one of two men directing the drugs operation have pleaded guilty.
And Mr Grieves-Smith told the jury that showed there was a conspiracy to supply cocaine – and the question for them was whether Burdett, Mowatt and Dalley were involved in it.
He said: “The conspiracy went on for longer than a year and involved a huge quantity of class A drugs. We say, based on one seizure, more than 100 kilos.
“Everyone of us knows the terrible damage done by people being indebted for drugs, and dealers do it despite knowing the damage done by their trade.
“At the top there are those who have huge amounts, and at the very end of the chain you have those such as addicts who sell the drugs, and there are some in the middle.
“Lewis Mowatt, Stacie Burdett and Caroline Dalley are not addicts, and nor were Christopher Reeve and his wife Sarah, David Burdett and Garvey Thompson.
“They were not addicts selling drugs to feed their addiction, they were in it for the money. What mattered to them was making a profit and running an efficient business.
“Drugs were purchased from someone in Liverpool, and a courier would travel up the M6 in the early morning and then drive back to the Rugby area or to Daventry.
“Once they had delivered the consignment it would be divided up by other people, and those couriers would then deliver to other people across the Midlands, to Leamington, Warwick, Coventry and Nottingham.”
Mr Grieves-Smith said the purity of the cocaine bought in Liverpool was high, consistent with having just been imported, and it would then be ‘cut’ with other substances before being sold on.
He told the jury that in August 2018 Mowatt and Sarah Reeve travelled to Liverpool ‘at the crack of dawn,’ having been told where to go by Christopher Reeve.
Previously Thomas Bash (77) of Wortley Close, Rugby, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, had made regular Liverpool trips but was on holiday in Scotland at the time.
“Not long after ten o’clock they were back close to Rugby and were arrested on the A5 with three kilos of cocaine in the boot of their car. The drugs, the prosecution say, would have been divided up and distributed to dealers in the Midlands.”
The cocaine in bulk was worth around £90,000 but by the time it was divided up it would have had a value of about £250,000 – or £400,000 if converted into crack cocaine.
“The prosecution say they intended to go to Sturdee Close in Daventry, the home of Caroline Dalley, who is the mother of Stacie Burdett and the mother-in-law of David Burdett.
“The police carried out a search of Caroline Dalley’s home and found class A drugs worth a little under £1 million, a huge amount of drugs.
“This was a warehouse-type facility being used by those involved in the conspiracy. It was a place where drugs would be hidden and divided up for onward distribution. Like a supermarket distribution system.”
Mr Grieves-Smith said David and Stacie Burdett knew the house had been raided, and within two hours they had moved a camper trailer to a field not far from their canal boat home.
It was carefully hidden, but was found using a police helicopter – and in it were more drugs and ‘a significant quantity of firearms’ which David Burdett has admitted possessing, but which Stacie Burdett denies.
They included a 9mm pistol and silencer, seven revolvers including a Colt and a Smith and Wesson, a pump-action shotgun, and ammunition – and one of the guns had Swain’s DNA on it.
Mr Grieves-Smith pointed out: “We are not suggesting he is party to the conspiracy, but that that is a weapon he had possessed.”
In relation to the weapons, he commented: “Selling drugs is a cut-throat business. They will enforce debts in a ruthless way. They ensure payment by sticking a gun in someone’s face. That is why guns and drugs go together so often.”
Of the drugs conspiracy, he told the jury: “Christopher Reeve lives with Sarah at an address in Rugby. The prosecution say he, together with Garvey Thompson from Birmingham, were at the very top of this conspiracy.
“Sarah Reeve was not at the same level, but was ready and willing to assist when required, and Christopher Reeve and Sarah Reeve were good friends of the Burdetts.”
Thompson, said Mr Grieves-Smith, was a serving prisoner at the time, but was able to give orders via a mobile phone he had got hold of, and was mainly involved with dealers in Leamington, including Tony Wilshire (29) from Bishops Tachbrook, who has also admitted the conspiracy charge.
Of other connections, Mowatt at the time was the partner of Sarah Reeve’s sister and made ‘voluble trips’ to collect and deliver drugs – although it was anticipated he will say he did not realise the trips were furthering the aims of a drugs conspiracy.
The trial continues.