Ringleader of £13m drug smuggling gang goes on the run from ten-year jail sentence (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Ringleader of £13m drug smuggling gang goes on the run from ten-year jail sentence
Police are hunting for the ringleader of a £13m international drug smuggling ring after members of his gang were brought to justice.
John Halliday, who is thought to have left the country and could be in the Phillipines, was yesterday jailed for ten years in his absence, having gone on the run just before he was due to stand trial.
He was convicted by the jury of conspiracy to import and conspiracy to supply synthetic drugs such as M-cat.
The court heard he dealt in body building supplements through his shop “Total Body” from premises in Park Road, Bingley where he had a lucrative sideline in supplying “legal highs” of the cathinone type drugs.
When they were criminalised as Class B drugs in 2010 he turned to smuggling them into the country.
The drugs were imported from China and India via courier firms, initially on a route through Greece where it was re-packaged and when that operation was compromised by a seizure there, through their alternative route in Germany.
The parcels were then delivered to addresses in Yorkshire. Sweden was also considered at one point as an alternative route.
Investigations revealed some 526 kilogrammes had been imported that way, with a wholesale value of £1.8m and a street value of £13.1million.
Craig Hassall, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that while Halliday managed the operation, complex financial arrangements were put in place to fund the purchase of the drugs and launder the money received.
Property developer and mortgage broker Paul Arabskyj was said to have either invested or loaned money to Halliday to fund the purchase.
When police went to one of his homes at Hunters Lodge, Wooley, near Wakefield on September 20, 2011 he had a Bentley, Mercedes and Rolls Royce parked in the grounds and £116,000 in cash was found in the boot of the Rolls, one note bearing the fingerprint of a known drug supplier.
Once in the country, the onward supply of the drugs was arranged after Halliday’s runners, including Alan Glover and Paul Wilcox, had collected the parcels often labelled as metal corrosion inhibitor.
One of the customers was Matthew Attiwell “a significant drugs wholesaler,” said Mr Haslam.
He worked at Rocar Moores, a Land Rover dealership in Huddersfield where officers saw him meet with Barrie Swaine and hand over a carrier bag.
Minutes later when Swaine was stopped by police, he was found in possession of almost a kilo of Methylone and the carrier bag.
The following month there was a meeting between Attiwell, Glover and Wilcox at a Huddersfield pub and when Attiwell was arrested a short time later he had almost 6kg of drugs in his boot.
Sentencing those involved, Judge James Spencer QC said while Halliday was the “pivot” for the whole “complex and well-organised” operation, he had recruited a network of people to help. Some were willing, some naive and some were being used by him.
Halliday, 31, then of South View, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, was jailed for 10 years.
Arabskyj, 57, who was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to import the Class B drugs, was jailed for six years.
Attiwell, 36, of Turnshaw Road, Kirkburton, Huddersfield, convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs and concealing criminal property, was jailed for six years.
Glover, 36 of Leamington Drive, Apperley Bridge, who admitted conspiracy to import, was jailed for four years.
Wilcox, 31 of Shelf Moor Road, Shelf, was jailed for six years eight months. He had admitted conspiracy to import and in June this year an affray charge and possessing a gun in Brighouse when a shot was fired at the door of a house after an earlier dispute involving his brother Jason Fielden.
Dean Randle, 25 of Littlelands, Cottingley, Bradford, was jailed for three years 11 months. He admitted conspiracy to import the class B drugs and two separate charges of conspiracy to supply Class B and C drugs in Bingley and Keighley. He also admitted possessing ammunition discovered in a carrier bag outside his home.
David Stephens, 39 of West Royd Crescent, Shipley, was found guilty of conspiracy to import and was jailed for three years. His partner Bernadette Cahill, 43, convicted of the same offence, was given a two year jail sentence suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work. They were said to have helped organise the shipping.
Swaine, 34 of Fieldhurst Court, Bierley, Bradford who admitted conspiracy to supply and Pritpal Singh Matharu, 34 of Oakhurst Grove, Leeds, who was convicted of that offence, were both given 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work.
Among those who received parcels were Gary Mottram, 33 of Armstrong Street, Laisterdyke, Bradford given 10 months in jail suspended for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work; Christina Robinson, 31 of West Royd Avenue, Shipley, given 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months with a three month curfew from 7pm to 7am; Kerry Ormondroyd, 32, of Tyersal Court, Bradford given 12 months suspended for 12 months; Angela Pearson, 49 of Glaisdale Court, Allerton, Bradford given 10 months in prison suspended for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work and Rebecca Hodgson, 27 of Littlelands, Shipley, given six months in jail suspended for 12 months.
Hodgson and Robinson were convicted of being knowingly concerned in the importation, the other three admitted the charge.
Fielden, 24 of Denby Drive, Baildon who was not connected with the drugs case was jailed for three years for affray and possession of a weapon.
After the case Detective Inspector Neil Hollis said: “Halliday has been handed a considerable prison sentence in his absence and we are now making enquiries to locate him and ensure that he is made to serve his time. We believe that he has left the country and may have boarded a flight to the Phillipines.”