11th Dec, 2019

'County lines' dealers took over home of vulnerable woman

Andy Morris 3rd Oct, 2019

A VULNERABLE Rugby woman’s home was taken over by drug dealers, including a man who was caught there with more than 400 street deals of heroin and crack cocaine.

After claiming he was there as her carer, Simeon Bernard pleaded guilty to possessing the two class A drugs with intent to supply them.

Bernard, 33, who is from Rugby but of no fixed address, was jailed for three years and eight months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.

Prosecutor Simon Burch said that in August the police executed a search warrant at a flat in Plowman Street, Rugby.

The flat, the home of a vulnerable woman, had been taken over by ‘county lines’ drug dealers in what is known as ‘cuckooing.’

When officers forced their way in, they found Bernard in the flat, and he was arrested.

And a search revealed 295 street deals of crack cocaine and 114 wraps of heroin, with a combined street value of £4,090, plus £3,773 in cash.

Mr Burch added that Bernard, who claimed he was there as the woman’s carer, had previous convictions for violence, but none for drug offences.

Mahan Manu, defending, said Bernard had worked at KFC in Rugby, but after being arrested outside for a matter which was not proceeded with, his employment was terminated.

As a result of that, he lost his accommodation and became homeless, and started ‘self-medicating’ with drugs.

Of Bernard’s role, Judge Peter Cooke commented that it was more likely he was an enforcer than a carer, and Mr Manu said: “His motivation was receiving drugs for his own use.”

Jailing Bernard, Judge Cooke also ruled his benefit from his involvement was £7,863 – the value of the drugs plus the cash.

And he ordered the £3,773 which had been seized by the police to be confiscated under the Proceeds of crime Act.

The judge told Bernard: “You are a man with a shocking record as a repeat offender.

“This is your first drug offence, but it’s the possession with intent of significant quantities of crack cocaine and heroin, two of the most pernicious drugs on the market.

“This is a cuckooing case in which a vulnerable woman was manipulated. That is true, even if it was by people further up the chain than you.

“I don’t sentence you on the basis that you are an intimidator and enforcer with regard to her, because I can’t be sure to the criminal standard, although I find that more likely than that you were acting as her carer.”

After the trial, a police spokesman said Bernard had been shipping drugs into the town from the Northamptonshire area.

Det Cons Gary Hammond from the Rugby Offender Management Unit added: “Information provided by the public helped us to convict Bernard and just as importantly it has allowed us to safeguard an extremely vulnerable woman.”

Anyone with information about drug dealing or concerns that a vulnerable person is being exploited can call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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