A COCAINE addict has been jailed for six years for helping a gang sell tens of thousands of pounds worth of the drug on the streets of Crediton.

Benjamin Mennell-Flisher was supplied by a former police officer who used his connections in Manchester to source cocaine which was brought to Devon in half kilogram consignments.

Gary Parkinson had just retired from the Greater Manchester Force and was running a dog breeding and training business in West Devon when he started to receive the cocaine in late 2019.

He linked up with Mennell-Flisher who acted as distributor in and around Crediton, selling in street deals and larger quantities of an ounce or more. Documents found by police showed that customers owed him £50 to £1,300.

A similar dealer’s list was found when police stopped Parkinson’s vehicle on a previous occasion, when he was found with £7,000 cash. The sums owed by his customers included debts of £8.450 and £11,700.

Couriers from Manchester made nine trips to Crediton or Tiverton between November 2019 and January 2020 and the operation was broken up when one was arrested as he headed for a planned rendez-vous at Shobrooke Park.

He had half a kilo of high purity cocaine with a wholesale value of £18,000 and street value of £40,000, meaning that the total potential value, if the same amount was transported on all the trips, of £360,000.

One of the deliveries had been made on Christmas Eve, and police recovered a dashcam from the van in which the driver was heard to say he was being paid £500 per round trip. The address of the final meeting at Shobrooke had been texted to him by Parkinson.

Mennell-Flisher, aged 29, of High Street, Crediton, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and was jailed for six years by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court.

Parkinson, aged 42, of Forda Mill, Clawton, near Holsworthy, and previously of Spreyton, near Okehampton, will be sentenced later.

The judge told Mennell-Flisher: “You played a significant role and your antecedent history does you no favours. Your involvement was driven to a large extent by you having an addiction to the drugs you were supplying.”

Mr Richard Posner, prosecuting, said that police observed Parkinson visiting Mennell-Flisher’s home and raided it after intercepting the courier on January 14, 2020.

They seized a phone with drug messages and found a dealer’s list in his kitchen with nine names on it of customers owing up to £1,300. One message which he sent out read “New number, back working full time, get on me”.

Mr Joss Ticehurst, defending, said Mennell-Flisher became involved because of his cocaine addiction and gained his benefit in the form of drugs rather than money.

He said his role was essentially as a street dealer and that his addiction was so severe that he could not have been trusted with any large amounts of cocaine because he would have used it rather than sold it.

He has been in prison on remand under difficult conditions for 18 months and has used his time to get off drugs. He is planning to stay clean when he is released because he knows that it he is caught dealing again he will receive a seven year mandatory sentence.

Crown Court Reporter