Drugs courier jailed for six and a half years as seven men walk free from court after two-month trial

A drugs cash courier has been jailed as seven other men walked free after a marathon trial over the distribution of cocaine.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 12:41 pm

Darren Gates, 49, who was arrested with £110,000 in drugs money as police rounded-up suspects in October 2015, was jailed for six and a half years.

Experts said that the banknotes were contaminated with twice the level of the Class A drug normally found in circulation.

Prosecutor Matthew Bean said police seized two consignments of cocaine worth about £100,000 in an operation spanning months.

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Darren Gates.

Judge Peter Armstrong told him that the jury must have rejected his explanation that the money was from a legitimate business interest and found that it was part of the conspiracy to supply cocaine.

The judge said his role as a courier of that money was significant.

Eric Lamb, defending, said that Gates’s involvement was a short duration of two months and he had been out of trouble for 20 years with no previous involvement with drugs.

He had been working as a driver transporting carers and also carrying out property repairs for a friend’s care homes business.

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

The trial, including men from Hartlepool, South Shields and South Hetton started at Teesside Crown Court on November 11 and the jury which was reduced to ten people after sickness.

The jury retired on Thursday, Jaunary 23, before returning majority verdicts by nine to one.

Gates, married with two young children, formerly of Grays Walk, South Shields, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

He now faces a Proceeds of Crime case in the summer.

Found not guilty on the same charge were: Alan Baines, 33, of Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, Graham Wilding, 33, of Warren Road, Hartlepool, Gary Mitchell, 42, of Pinedale Drive, South Hetton, Christopher Hickson, 35, of Gloucester Terrace, Haswell, and Dean Pringle, 34, of Little Eden, Peterlee.

The judge discharged the jury from reaching verdicts on Stephen Horner, 24, of Frederick Terrace, South Hetton, and an eighth man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

He gave the Prosecution 28 days to decide if there will be a re-trial.