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Gang of drug dealers who targeted bars in Newcastle city centre jailed for more than 50 years
16 Sep | 16:56

Twenty drug dealers arrested in an undercover sting operation in Newcastle city centre bars and nightclubs have been jailed for a total of more than 50 years.

Operation Doncaster was launched in the summer of 2017 after Northumbria Police became aware of criminal activity linked to the supply of Class A drugs.

They had initially launched an investigation after a report that a bouncer had been assaulted at the House of Smith bar on Collingwood Street in April of that year.

But as a result of that investigation police became aware that known drug dealers were being afforded "celebrity status" in a number of popular bars and nightclubs.

They discovered drug dealers were being granted free entry to clubs, allowed to skip queues and were given free drinks in VIP areas.

Officers spoke to bar owners along Collingwood Street and raised concerns about the supply of cocaine and other Class A drugs taking place on their premises.

But Northumbria Police also launched an undercover operation that saw plain-clothed officers deployed in the city centre.

They bought drugs directly off bouncers, promoters and bar staff while others gave them phone numbers of dealers who would then drive into the city centre to sell drugs.

Officers continued with the operation for a number of months before Northumbria Police executed dawn raids in December 2017.

They arrested almost 50 people after carrying out dozens of warrants across the North East in which they also seized a haul of drugs, weapons and cash.

But as part of the enforcement activity they also shut down four popular city centre bars after working with Newcastle City Council to secure closure orders at court.

That saw the bars shut during a busy Christmas period in 2017 and sent a strong message to other businesses in the night-time economy.

Earlier this year seven men and one woman were jailed for a total of 20 years for offences linked to the supply of Class A drugs.

Today (Monday), the final 12 defendants were jailed for a total of 31 years at Newcastle Crown Court – meaning 20 people have now been put behind bars for a total of more than 50 years.

Following the case, Chief Inspector David Pickett condemned the “glamorisation of cocaine” that had led to a culture of drug use in the city centre.

He said: “There was a culture of drug use in some areas of the city centre where taking cocaine had almost become part of the night out.

“Known drug dealers were afforded celebrity status. They didn’t pay entry, didn’t queue, were seated in VIP areas and given free drinks.

“There was a glamorisation of drugs that was seen as normal and some young men with no previous criminal convictions got drawn into this criminality.

“Whether they were selling drugs themselves, or passing on numbers of street dealers, these men were complicit in the widespread supply of Class A drugs in Newcastle.

“Our enforcement activity rocked that criminal network that sent a strong message across the city.”

He added: “There is no place for drug use in the night-time economy and anyone who gets involved in drug dealing should expect to be put before the courts.

“Many of these men thought they were untouchable. They were cocky and brazen but now they are spending time behind bars.

“I want to thank all the partner agencies and I also want to praise those officers who have dedicated two years to securing these convictions.

“Operation Doncaster should reassure the public that their safety is our priority and that we won’t let drug dealers use our city centre bars as a market stall.”

The 12 men jailed today were sentenced as follows:

• Francis Day, 28, of Emily Street, Walker, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a Class A drug, two counts of supplying a Class A drug, two counts of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and possession of criminal property. He was jailed for four years and four months.

• Stephen Mark Jamieson, 23, of Trewhitt Road, Heaton, pleaded guilty to one count of being conspiracy to supply a Class A drug. He was jailed for 16 months suspended for 18 months with 150 hours of unpaid work.

• Joseph John Scott, 27, of Monkridge, North Walbottle, pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying a Class A drug, one count of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and one count of being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug. He was jailed for three years and three months.

• Sam Cottrell, 29, of Tide Spring Row, Hebburn, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a Class A drug, four counts of supplying a Class A drug, possession of a Class A drug and possession of criminal property. He was jailed for three years and nine months.

• Joseph Capocci, 26, of Coquet Avenue, Gosforth, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a Class A drug. He was jailed for three years.

• Fergus John Carneigie, 29, of Hauxley Drive, Gosforth, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug. He was jailed for 19 months.

• Mahyar Carter, 35, of Dove Cot Drive, Chester-le-Street, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, six counts of supplying cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of criminal property. He was jailed for six years and four months.

• Christian McGee, 25, of Stepney Lane, Battlefield, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug. He was jailed for 16 months suspended for 18 months with 150 hours of unpaid work.

• Ryan Colin Colquhoun, 25, of Rydal Road, Lemington, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, possession of a Class B drug and possession of criminal property. He was jailed for two years and four months.

• Kevin Graham Laws, 25, of Rosewood Drive, Ponteland, pleaded guilty to one count of supplying a Class A drug. He was jailed for two years and three months.

• Paul Richards, 26, of Percy Street, Hetton-le-Hole, pleaded guilty to supplying a Class A drug. He was jailed for two years and four months.

• Emilio Vincenzo Arceri, 26, of Heathfield Place, Low Fell, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug. He was jailed for 22 months.

Anyone with information about drug dealing is asked to contact police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also report information online at the Northumbria Police website.

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