Members of an organised crime group who flooded the Chester area with heroin and crack cocaine have been jailed for a total of 43-and-a-half years.
James Bolland, Daniel Rubert, Kyle Byrne, Dylan Griffiths, Sean Roddy, Stephen Clarke, Anthony Skyner, David Young, Graham Mallon, Zahra O’Bad, Carl Henderson and Paul Williamson have all been sentenced following a six-month investigation into the large scale supply of class A drugs from Merseyside.
The investigation revealed that a county lines drug dealing gang, who called themselves The Johnno Team, were using pay-as-you-go mobile phones to send flare text messages to known drug users in the Chester area.
The messages informed addicts and other drug users of when and where they could buy class A drugs from the gang.
Drug runners were used to transport crack cocaine and heroin to the Chester area from Merseyside.
In addition, vulnerable people living in the Chester area were coerced into letting their homes be used as bases for class A drug dealing, which is a criminal practice known as cuckooing.
On Thursday 25 April 2019 these properties and the known homes of the gang members were raided by the team leading the investigation at Chester Local Policing Unit (LPU), with support from Merseyside Police.
Significant quantities of illegal drugs and cash were seized during the dawn raids in the Chester, Liverpool and St Helens areas.
The officers who executed the warrants also seized a number of mobile phones belonging to members of The Johnno Team.
Analysis of the phones and cell site data helped to build up a picture of group’s sophisticated criminal enterprise, as did ANPR and CCTV footage.
The extensive evidence gathered showed that Bolland, 27, Rubert, 28, Byrne, 29, and Griffiths, 26, had leading roles in the team, managing the operation.
Bolland was the main ringleader.
Roddy, 54, O’Bad, 28, Henderson, 30, and Williamson, 55, were responsible for driving the vehicles that were used to transport the drugs and other members of the group to the Chester area.
The role of Clarke, 48, Skyner, 31, Young, 21, and Mallon, 56, was to hand over the drugs to users in the Chester area and collect the cash.
Bolland, who lived in Higher Parr Street, St Helens; Rubert, who lived in Noble Close, Saltney, Chester; Byrne, who lived on Barrymore Road, Liverpool; Griffiths, who lived on Oakfield Road, Liverpool; Clarke, who lived in Lorenzo Drive, Liverpool; Skyner, who had no fixed address; Mallon, who lived on Blacon Point Road, Chester; and Young, who lived in Stanley Street, Liverpool; all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
Rubert also admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply the class B drug.
He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in relation to him falsely reporting to the police that two men wearing balaclavas had threatened him and stolen his girlfriend’s car. He was in fact inside the vehicle when it crashed into a parked car on Victoria Road in Saltney, Chester, on Wednesday 27 June 2018. Following the collision, he fled the scene on foot.
Bolland, Rubert, Byrne, Griffiths, Clarke, Skyner and Young were all sentenced between Wednesday 24 June and Friday 26 June 2020.
Roddy, who lived on Lynwood Road, Blacon, Chester, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine but was convicted of the offence following a three-day trial. He was sentenced on Friday 13 November 2020 and has since died in prison.
O’Bad, of Mexborough, Yorkshire; Henderson, of Trafalgar Road, Wallasey, Merseyside; and Williamson, of Park Avenue, Saughall, Chester; pleaded guilty to lesser charges, which were accepted by the prosecution.
Those charges were being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine in the case of O’Bad and encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence in the case of Henderson and Williamson.
The trio were sentenced on Friday 27 November 2020.
Mallon, who was caught in possession of 42 wraps of heroin and cocaine when he was arrested, was sentenced on Thursday 8 July 2021.
All 12 offenders were sentenced at Chester Crown Court.
The sentences they received were:
- Bolland: Eight years in prison
- Rubert: Seven years in prison
- Byrne: Five years in prison
- Griffiths: Four years and nine months in prison
- Roddy: Four years and six months in prison
- Clarke: Four years in prison
- Skyner: Four years in prison
- Young: Three years and six months in a young offenders’ institution
- Mallon: Two years and nine months in prison
- O’Bad: A suspended prison sentence of one year and six months
- Henderson: A suspended prison sentence of one year and six months
- Williamson: A suspended prison sentence of one year and six months.
Bolland was also handed a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), which prohibits him from associating with any of the other 10 offenders, going to the Chester area, forcing or coercing anyone to allow him into or to stay at their home, possessing a mobile phone which is not registered in his name and possessing more than one mobile phone at any one time.