ONE of the men involved in a smash and grab raid at a jewellers in Wellington – and carried on supplying drugs despite being arrested three times – has been jailed.
Joseph Hale ran his own county lines operation under the trade name Josh and brought large amounts of heroin and crack from Liverpool to the South-West.
He remained in business despite being busted for drugs by police in Taunton in April 2017 and in Wellington in June 2018. He was arrested again in August 2018 for the raid on the Joseph Welch jewellers but was released on bail and went straight back to drug dealing. He only stopped when he was arrested in July 2019 for failing to turn up at Taunton Crown Court to be sentenced for that burglary. He has been locked up ever since.
Hale recruited addicts in Tiverton and Taunton to help him distribute drugs which customers ordered over the Josh drugs line. He set up shop in some of the homes, acting as what police call a cuckoo. Police seized drugs worth more than £7,500 and more than £2,000 cash but detectives believe these represented only a snapshot of the scale of his operation.
Hale, 24, of Rappart Road, Wallasey, admitted six counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. Kevin Dempsey, 34, of Aigburth Drive, Sefton, who also took part in the burglary at the Wellington jewellers, admitted two counts of conspiracy.
Hale was jailed for six years and Dempsey for three years and three months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court. He told Hale: “There has to be a very significant upward adjustment in the sentence in the light of the fact that there were three sets of conspiracy offences in three separate years. The second and third sets were committed while you were released under investigation for earlier offences. The 2019 conspiracy took place while you were on bail awaiting sentence for burglary.”
Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said Hale ran similar drugs supply operations on three different occasions, starting up again each time one was dismantled by the police.
The first ran in March and April 2017 and ended when the arrest of one of his dealers in Tiverton led police to the caravan park where he was staying in Taunton. Officers seized cash, drugs, five mobile phones and documents showing that cars had been hired in Liverpool to transport drugs to Devon and Somerset. Hale made no comment in interview and was released under investigation.
He was next arrested on the M5 at Wellington in June 2018 in a car being driven by Dempsey. Texts on his phone showed he was supplying drugs in the area. Police were able to trace numerous drug supply trips made from Merseyside including two others by Dempsey.
The final arrest came in Tiverton on March 1, 2019, by which time both Hale and Dempsey were awaiting sentence for the smash and grab raid in which they stole £11,000 worth of watches. Police were able to link him to a network of local users who were delivering drugs which were offered on his Josh phone line.
Emily Cook, defending, said Hale suffered a tragic childhood in which he was drawn into the abuse of drink and drugs after his father died when he was aged 11. He had not been at the top of the supply chain and was put under pressure by others above him. He has a young child who he fears losing contact with.
Lloyd Morgan, for Dempsey, said he was paid only £200 per delivery trip and was tempted by the lure of easy money.
Both defendants were jailed for their part in the burglary at Joseph Welch jewellers at separate hearings at Taunton Crown Court last year. Hale got 16 months and Dempsey 32 months.
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