Car dealer denies being ringleader of drugs gang involving defendants from Hartlepool, East Durham and South Shields

A car dealer has denied he was the leader of a drugs gang distributing cocaine in County Durham and Teesside.
The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.

Gary Mitchell, 42, said he did not challenge most of the police evidence of sightings of him in various vehicles in 2015 and 2016.

He said that he bought many cars at auctions and on eBay and through newspaper advertisements, and he drove them on shopping trips with his partner or on outings with friends.

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He was the first of eight defendants including men from Hartlepool, South Shields and East Durham to give evidence for the defence in their trial at Teesside Crown Court where they deny conspiracy to supply the Class A drug.

Mitchell, a father of two with two stepchildren, denied that he had two mobile phones which the Crown alleged were tracked in calls to other defendants at about the times when police seized two consignments of cocaine worth more than £100,000.

He told the jury: “I’ve never, ever had two phones.

”My girlfriend would be suspicious if I had two phones.”

His barrister Paul Rooney told him: “We have heard evidence from lots of police officers that they have seen you driving lots of vehicles.

”Do you accept that on every occasion it was you?”

Mitchell replied: “I can’t be specific that it was me driving.

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”It’s more likely that it was me driving, because I can’t say 100 per cent.”

Mr Rooney asked: “Did you supply cocaine to others ?” to which Mitchell replied: “Certainly not, I never have done. I have never supplied cocaine to one person in my life.”

Mr Rooney added: “The Prosecution say that you are head of this criminal empire, have you ever conspired to supply cocaine to anyone?”

Mitchell said: “Certainly not”

Mitchell is one of eight people charged with conspiracy to supply drugs.

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The defendants as are: Alan Baines, 33, of Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, and Graham Wilding, 33, of Warren Road, Hartlepool, deny conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A between 2015 and 2016 alongside Gary Mitchell, 42, of Pinedale Drive, South Hetton; Stephen Horner, 24, of Frederick Terrace, South Hetton; Christopher Hickson, 35, of Gloucester Terrace, Haswell; Darren Gates, 49, of Chaucer Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields; Dean Pringle, 34, of Little Eden, Peterlee, and an eighth man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.