Twelve in court over city centre bar drug-dealing inquiry

Police issuing a closure notice to a city centre bar.
Police issuing a closure notice to a city centre bar.

A dozen people have appeared in court as part of a long-running investigation into suspected drug dealing at city centre bars.

The defendants, including two men from Wearside and one from South Tyneside, were arrested as part of Northumbria Police's ongoing Operation Doncaster.

It began last December when the force issued closure notices to legally shut four bars in Newcastle city centre.

Thirty-seven people were arrested and released under investigation while detectives continued their inquiries.

Seven men and one woman were charged earlier this year and now another 12 suspects have appeared before North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Paul Richards, 26, of Percy Street, Hetton, was charged with supplying or offering to supply a Class A drug and being concerned in the supply of a class A drug.

Mahyar Carter, 34, of Dovecote Drive, Chester-le-Street, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drug, five counts of supplying or offering to supply a class A drug, possession with intent to supply a class A drug and money laundering.

Sam Cottrell, 28, whose address was given as Tide Spring, Hebburn, was charged with conspiracy to supply a class A drug, four counts of supplying or offering to supply a class A drug, possession of a class A drug with intent to supply and one count of money laundering.

All three were granted unconditional bail until Tuesday, September 25, when they will appear alongside the nine other defendants at Newcastle Crown Court.

The remaining suspects, who are aged between 22 and 28, are from Gateshead, Newcastle and Ponteland and were either granted bail or remanded in custody.

Chief Inspector Dave Pickett, of Newcastle Police, said after the latest charges: "The closure warnings showed licensed premises in the city centre how seriously we take such issues and I think that came as a shock to some people.

"A criminal investigation has been ongoing for some time now and this has resulted in suspects being charged to appear in court."

Another nine men remain under investigation as part of the operation.