Prison staff help to bring down drugs racket
POLICE have revealed how they worked with prison staff to bring members of a major drugs ring to justice.
Damien Miller, below, helped run a gang supplying cocaine and heroin in North Staffordshire while serving time at an open prison.
Miller was jailed for 10 years this week after admitting two counts of conspiracy to supply class-A drugs.
Three more members of Miller's gang were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court yesterday, with two receiving prison sentences. This brings the total number of conspirators jailed to 11.
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Detectives at Staffordshire Police have now revealed how they liaised with staff at HMP North Sea Camp, in Lincolnshire, over the course of their three-month investigation.
Miller, who was serving a sentence for a previous drug offence, was allowed to leave the prison on day release, even though he was suspected of continuing his criminal career. This allowed detectives to gather enough evidence against him and fellow drug dealer John Phillips to secure convictions.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Clews, head of Staffordshire Police's serious and organised crime unit, said: "Building a case against Miller, Phillips and their associates took a considerable team effort.
"Miller did not handle the drugs himself, but got other people to do his dirty work for him. As head of the group he was controlling everyone and everything, from a distance
"I would like to pay tribute to the hard-work and dedication of everyone involved in bringing this group down. The commitment shown by our officers and staff, together with colleagues at the CPS, HMP North Sea Camp and Lincolnshire Police must be acknowledged."
Graham Batchford, governor of HMP North Sea Camp, said: "The outcome is proof that we will take every measure possible, to ensure that those who fall foul of the terms of their temporary release are swiftly brought to justice."
Conspirators Dane Parker, Ryan Jones and Darina Garkavaya were all sentenced yesterday after admitting to conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Parker and Jones helped launder the profits of drug dealing by depositing hundreds of pounds in bank accounts.
Garkavaya, who was Miller's girlfriend at the time, withdrew £1,130 from the same accounts, under instruction from her partner.
Parker, aged 23, of Finstock Avenue, Blurton, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.
He had been arrested on June 23 last year after being caught hiding drugs worth more than £60,000 under a friend's bed.
Anthony Dunkels, mitigating for Parker, told the court the father-of-one had shown genuine remorse for his actions.
Mr Dunkels said: "He now has great awareness of the impact that class-A drugs have on society. He is specifically concerned for what it could mean for his five-year-old son. He welcomes a custodial sentence, and sees it as a opportunity to put his mistakes behind him."
Judge Michael Cullum sentenced Parker to three years and eight months.
Nicola Bell, mitigating for Jones, said he had been a childhood friend of Miller's who had helped him out of a misplaced sense of loyalty and had not been paid.
Jones, aged 27, of Portland Street, Hanley, was sentenced to 14 months.
Richard Fisher, mitigating for mother-of-one Garkavaya, told the court she did not know the money had come from drug dealing, and was not paid for her actions.
The 24-year-old, of Spalding, was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for 12 months, and was told to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.
A thirteenth defendant, Adrian Clewlow, aged 26, of Weston Drive, Weston Coyney, will be sentenced on Wednesday.