Verdict in drug supply trial

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THREE men were today found guilty of being involved in an organised crime gang’s cocaine supply chain.

The convictions came following a 14 week trial at Preston Crown Court in the wake of Operation Bespoke, a lengthy police investigation into drug dealing and money laundering in Lancaster and the surrounding areas.

Warrants executed in late 2009 revealed cocaine, cutting agents, machines used to press the drugs and weapons – including guns, a taser, ammunition and machetes – were being kept at gang members’ homes.

Further investigation by officers led to raids being carried out in Lancaster and Morecambe on July 13, 2010, and 15 people were arrested and charged with a variety of offences relating to drug dealing and money laundering.

Following the conclusion of the trial today, Anthony Diprose, 27, of Roeburn Drive, Morecambe was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and a proceeds of crime offence. He had previously admitted fraud by false representation.

Andrew Gunningham, 30, of Ryelands Road, Lancaster, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs, having previously admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

And Brian Coulton, 20, of Tarnsyke Road, Lancaster, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Two women and two men were also found guilty of laundering the profits of the gang’s drug dealing activity.

Katie Noon, 24, of Austwick Road, Lancaster; Paul Noon, 30, also of Austwick Road, Lancaster; Rachel Lynch, 41, of Tarnbrook Road, Lancaster, and Paul Lynch, 45, also of Tarnbrook Road, Lancaster, were all found guilty of money laundering.

Six other people had pleaded guilty to offences earlier in the court process.

Jason Diprose, 25, of Austwick Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs, conspiracy to supply class A drugs and fraud by false representation.

Kenneth Smith, 23, of Mainway, Lancaster, was found guilty of possession with intent to supply class A drugs. He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

David Threlfall, 28, of Artle Place, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to class B drugs.

Aiden Higgins, 21, of Dee Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possession of heroin.

Liam Wiper, 24, of Euston Grove, Morecambe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Liam Parkinson, 24, of Norfolk Street, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, possession with intent to supply heroin and possession of a taser gun.

Supt Andy Webster, Lancaster Police, said: “Residents in Lancaster and Morecambe told us that their lives were being been blighted by the criminal activities of a small but organised group of criminals.

“We listened to residents and acted on their concerns about what had been going on in their communities. This has led to these people being arrested and put before the courts.”

Supt Webster added: “Lancashire Constabulary is committed to tackling crime and disrupting organised crime groups.

“It is incredibly important that people continue to provide the police with information so that we can keep them safe and look for ways to prevent organised crime groups from operating in the future.”

A date for sentencing has yet to be set.