5:00am Friday 3rd January 2014
By Samantha Harman and Harry Hogger
A MAJOR crackdown on a ‘hotbed of drug activity’ at a Weymouth pub has led to the sentencing of eight men.
Officers went undercover at the George Inn, Custom House Quay, between August and October 2012, following reports of dealing.
They were supplied with drugs such as Class A cocaine and Class B cannabis by a number of people – including the chef and a 17-year-old.
The pub was closed after a police raid and has since been relaunched as The George Bar & Grill, operating under new management.
The eight defendants involved in the case have been learning their punishments over the last few months and now that the last has been sentenced, the Echo can report on proceedings.
All but one was jailed, with the highest sentences being 32 months for those who played ‘significant roles’ in the criminal activity.
Officers who took part in Operation Goodnight – known only by fake names, such as ‘Danny’, ‘Harry’ and ‘Hannah’– bought drugs on a number of occasions, Dorchester Crown Court heard. Police had enough evidence to send in a riot squad at the end of October 2012, much to the shock of innocent patrons enjoying drinks and meals.
Sentencing all eight defendants, Judge Roger Jarvis said he was ‘deeply’ concerned to learn there was one place in Weymouth which became a ‘centre for the trade of drugs.’ He said he was anxious that innocent people had been visiting the pub when the illegal activity was going on.
He requested a ‘hierarchy chart’ from the prosecution so he could see who played the greatest parts in the operation.
Kevin Knox, of Dorchester Road, and Brian Moore of Alma Road, Weymouth came out at the top, both playing ‘significant roles,’ the court heard.
Many of the defendants, including Knox and Moore, admitted being drug addicts.
One was just 17 when he was arrested and admitted four counts of supplying cocaine and one count of supplying cannabis, the court heard.
In mitigation for teenager Connor Burrows, Tim Shorter said he got ‘swept up by his own naivety in to being ‘one of the boys’ and acted ‘as a junior shop assistant in an operation that was being run by people much older than him.’ At least four defendants were told by Judge Jarvis that it was a ‘shame’ they had let themselves down. He decided to ‘take a chance’ on one defendant and imposed a suspended sentence – but the rest were told that their punishment would have to be prison.
“The sentences handed out by the court sends out a clear message that drug supply in Dorset will not be tolerated.
“It should also act as a warning to landlords that the police will not tolerate drug dealing within licensed premises or within the Dorset area.
“We will continue to proactively target anyone involved in drug supply.”
KEVIN Knox, aged 45, of Dorchester Road, Weymouth, played a ‘significant role’ in the operation.
He was sentenced to 32 months for three counts of supplying Class A drug cocaine. He admitted the charges.
In mitigation, Nicholas Robinson said the drug addict had ‘let himself down’ and ‘caused a great deal of shame,’ but wanted to reform.
Brian Joseph Moore
BRIAN Joseph Moore, aged 39, of Alma Road, Weymouth was also imprisoned for 32 months for two counts of supplying cocaine which he admitted.
He was working as a chef at the pub and in charge of the karaoke. In mitigation, Christopher Gair said Moore had been ‘battling with drugs for 20 plus years.’
He was told by Judge Roger Jarvis that prison was ‘inevitable’ for ‘those who deal in Class A drugs.’
GARY Strange, aged 34, of Lea Road, Weymouth, was jailed for 16 months for one count of supplying cocaine, a charge he admitted.
In mitigation, Anne Brown said Strange was an alcoholic and thought he was ‘doing someone a favour’ by passing the drugs on.
Ms Brown said Strange did not display behaviour ‘which suggests he has given any thought to the seriousness of the offence that he has stumbled in to.’
RYAN Newton, aged 29, of Park Lane, Weymouth, was jailed for 16 months for supplying Class A drug cocaine with intent. He admitted the charge.
In mitigation, Christopher Gair said Newton ‘never profited’ from the sale of the drugs.
Judge Roger Jarvis told him: “You are about to learn, I fear, a very hard lesson.
“I have read the letters which have been brought to my attention and I can see that people think highly of you. What a shame that you didn’t keep up their view by keeping away from what the Crown has described as a hotbed of drug activity.”
Jason Barry Ian Francis
JASON Barry Ian Francis, inset, aged 27, of Dorchester Road, Weymouth admitted four charges of supplying a Class A drug and two offences of an offer to supply a Class A drug and was jailed for two years.
In mitigation, Tim Shorter said Francis was 'scratching money together here, there and everywhere in order to feed his own habits’.
Judge Roger Jarvis told Francis: “You must be aware of the concern that the public has that a public house is the location for dealing in drugs, particularly when the court learns that the dealing is in Class A drugs.”
JASON Carter, aged 37, has 17 convictions for 30 offences and was sentenced to 12 weeks after admitting supplying Class B drug mephedrone.
In mitigation, Anne Brown said Carter ‘understands that being addicted and under the influence of drugs does not provide an excuse as to why when the undercover officers came in to the pub he involved himself’.
Stephen John Clarke
STEPHEN Jonathan Clarke, aged 29, admitted two counts of supplying a Class B drug, one count of offering to supply a Class B drug and one count of possessing a Class B drug.
He was sentenced to a community order of 18 months – the only defendant not to face immediate imprisonment.
In mitigation, Tim Bradbury said that Clarke had been a drug addict but since being charged has moved to Bournemouth, gained full-time employment and is trying to ‘turn his life around’.
Judge Roger Jarvis told Clarke he was going to ‘take a chance’ on him because ‘society’s interest is best served by doing what one can to promote a permanent change in your lifestyle, so that you no longer abuse drugs, become hard working and don’t come before the court again’.
Connor Robert Burrows
CONNOR Robert Burrows, now aged 18, of Walker Crescent, Weymouth, played a ‘lesser role’.
The youngest defendant was jailed for two years for four counts of supplying cocaine and one count of supplying cannabis.
He admitted the charges.
Judge Jarvis said Burrows had ‘no real idea of the scale of the operation’.
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