England

Drugs gang 'brought misery' to communities in south Devon

Weapons seized by police Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Police seized a number of weapons during their investigation into the gang members

A gang member who police said brought "misery" to communities in south Devon has been jailed for 25 years for drugs and sex offences.

James Brooks, 41, of Dawlish, was a member of a gang who got "large sums of money" from cocaine and cannabis.

He was one of 13 gang members sentenced at Bristol Crown Court following offences committed during 2018/2019.

Judge Michael Longman said the town "changed for the better" after the arrests.

Brooks, of Park Road, received the longest sentence of the 13 men, being handed 12 years for drugs offences, and 13 years for aiding and abetting 13 counts of rape.

Criminal empire

Devon and Cornwall Police said the group "exerted significant influence and control within Dawlish and Teignmouth" and "used violence and coercive tactics to maintain a criminal empire valued at £1m".

Det Ch Insp Nick Wilden said some members had been a blight on communities for 10 years.

Officers seized a variety of weapons during their investigation, including firearms, knives and knuckledusters.

Seized mobile phone footage also showed them assaulting people over drug debts, police added.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption The gang included (top, R-L): Keiron Archbold, James Brooks, Gavin Brooks, Marvin Grant, Stephen Green, Nazrul Islam, (bottom, R-L) John Jackson, Ross Morton, John Rowntree, James Trott, Martin Turner, John White

Sentencing after a four-month trial, Judge Longman said the men had "made an unwelcome mark on the town to detriment of law-abiding individuals".

He added there was "no doubt" Brooks was the "prime mover of these conspiracies".

Prosecutors also paid tribute to the courage of three rape victims who gave evidence against men who exploited them.

One man in the town, who wanted to remain anonymous because of fear of reprisals, told the BBC that there had been a "definite atmosphere of fear".

He said: "There was a seething undercurrent of, 'We don't want this here, but we don't know what to do about it'.

"It's [now] like a blight has been lifted."

As well as Brooks, those jailed included:

  • Keiron Archbold, 22, of First Avenue, Dawlish - jailed for six years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis
  • Gavin Brooks, 26, of 64 Mainsforth Terrace, Sunderland - jailed for two years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin
  • Marvin Grant, 33, of 26 Fir Avenue, Liverpool, jailed for five years for conspiracy to supply cannabis and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply
  • Stephen Green, 38, of Maple Wood Avenue, Southwick, Sunderland - jailed for four years for five counts of rape
  • Nazrul Islam, 36, of Somerset Place, Teignmouth - jailed for 11 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, two counts of rape, actual bodily harm, and possession of ammunition without licence
  • John Jackson, 30, of Lower Brimley Road, Teignmouth - jailed for two years and one month for conspiracy to supply cannabis and assault occasioning grievous bodily harm
  • Ross Morton, 32, of West View, Roker, Sunderland - jailed for 22 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, and eight counts of rape
  • John Rowntree, 35, of Coronation Avenue, Dawlish - jailed for nine years for conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis, and making threats to kill
  • Martin Turner, 41, Shackleton Walk, Teignmouth - jailed for seven years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis
  • James Trott, 37, of Oaklands Crescent, Sunderland, - jailed for three years and six months for one count of rape
  • John White, 35, of Lower Trindle Close, Chudleigh - jailed for nine years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis

The 13th man: Lewis Williams, 20, of Springwood Avenue, Garston, Liverpool, was given a two-year sentence, suspended for two years, for conspiracy to supply cannabis and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.

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