A JUDGE has ordered the arrest of a drugs courier who has gone on the run after being caught bringing £20,000 worth of heroin and crack to Devon.
John Holland was stopped on the M5 near Honiton as he ferried two teenaged boys to Plymouth with large amounts of drugs hidden in their trouser legs.
They were all part of a County Lines operation which traded under the name of Scouse Eddie and which employed a homeless addict in Plymouth to deliver them.
The 200 grams of heroin and 162 grams of crack were already bagged up for street sale when they were seized by the police in March last year.
Phone messages and checks on Holland’s movements showed he had made eight trips from Skelmersdale on Merseyside to Devon, accompanied by a 17-year-old drug dealer on two of them.
Four members of the gang all pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court but Holland jumped bail while awaiting sentence and is now being sought by police.
Holland, aged 45, of Field Street, Skelmersdale; Paul Jevons, aged 45, of no fixed address, Luke Shinner, aged 19, and Jack Kirby, now 18, both of Skelmersdale, all admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
Holland was jailed for five years and five months, Jevons for two years and nine months, and the other two both received suspended sentences from Judge Anna Richardson.
A warrant has been issued for Holland’s arrest and he may have extra jail time for absconding when he is located.
Mr Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said Holland, Shinner and Kirby were all arrested on March 8, 2022 and checks showed it was Holland’s eighth trip and Kirby’s sixth. There were another six trips by another courier and the total amount of drugs involved was estimated by police to be well over a kilogram.
Holland had also hired a car which had driven down on the same day as one of the previous runs and which he had asked Jevons to return to the rental company, apparently without success.
Jevons was arrested later in Plymouth with the Scouse Eddie phone line and his role was to deliver drugs which customers ordered on it.
Mr Warren Robinson, for Holland, said he had been paid £10 an hour or £1 a mile to act as courier and did not see or have any personal contact with the drugs. He was working to pay for his own cocaine habit.
He had not recruited anyone to the operation and was taking the two boys to Plymouth under instructions.
Mr Paul Grumbar, for Jevons, said he was living from hand to mouth and was working to feed his own drug habit. He was at the lowest level in the supply chain, where he took the greatest risks for the least reward.
Mr Simon Burns for Shinner and Mr Michael Green, for Kirby, said they were both drawn in by their own drug use and resultant debts to the gang. Shinner was subjected to overt threats of violence and was caught on his only trip.
He has no convictions and is now working as a farm hand.