Using covert recording equipment, undercover police officers posed as users to trap people in the city centre and West End who were ‘peddling misery’
A former soldier and taxi drivers were among those snared in an undercover police sting to nab drug dealers in Newcastle.
Using covert recording equipment, police officers posed as users to trap people in the city centre and West End who were willing to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Ex-squaddie David Nixon was one of those caught dealing cocaine in Operation Themis, along with his then-partner, sometimes with young children in the car.
Taxi driver Shamsher Iqbal was caught selling drugs as he tried to save up for a new car while Amar Khan got involved after losing his job as a cabbie following a driving conviction.
Now Nixon, Iqbal and Khan have been locked up at Newcastle Crown Court while Nixon’s partner and another man got suspended prison sentences.
Judge Tim Gittins told them they had been “peddling misery”, adding: “It can’t be said often enough that these drugs blight lives and kill.
“They cause untold misery for those who take them and their friends and family who have to deal with the effects and for the wider innocent public, who are affected directly and indirectly by offences committed to fund addictions or offences committed while under the influence of drugs.”
Nixon, 24, and Michele Summerside, 27, both of Bishop’s Road, Benwell, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine after being caught selling to an undercover officer.
Nixon supplied cocaine on six occasions while Summerside supplied once and was present twice when Nixon was dealing.
In July last year officer ‘John’ met Summerside outside Lidl on Benwell Lane.
Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said: “Two children were in the rear seat, aged around three to four years old.
“John paid £40 for two wraps.”
On another occasion Nixon had a female child in the car when he turned up to sell £20 of cocaine, the court heard.
Judge Gittins told them: “One appalling aggravating feature of the offences so far as both of you are concerned is you were with your young children on occasions when you met the purchaser, so they were present when you were supplying serious class A drugs.”
When police went to Summerside’s home in Benwell they found more than 56g of cocaine worth up to £6,000, plus more than £1,000 in cash.
Nixon, who also admitted attacking a door supervisor in a pub with a pool cue in May, was jailed for a total of three years and five months.
Andrew Walker, mitigating, said: “He served his country in Afghanistan twice in the Royal Signals and served in the British Army until he was medically discharged last year.
“He was medically discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder because of his experiences on the battlefield.”
Summerside was given two years suspended for two years with a six-month curfew.
Jonathan Cousins, for Summerside, said she cares for her three young children and her sister and “bitterly regrets” becoming involved to help Nixon when he got into debt.
Mr Cousins said: “Most of all, she very bitterly regrets the children being in the vehicle when she did the deal.
“She felt she couldn’t leave the children in the house because there were no other carers.”
In separate offences linked only by the police operation, Iqbal, 26, supplied drugs to an undercover officer in October and November last year in the Mill Lane area, near Westgate Road.
When he was arrested he was found to have more than £3,000 in cash and told police he was a cabbie.
When the undercover officer asked Iqbal for cocaine, he said he didn’t sell it but introduced him to former taxi driver Amar Khan.
Iqbal, of Beaconsfield Street, Arthur’s Hill, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying cannabis and one of supplying cocaine and was jailed for 18 months.
Khan, 25, of Ladykirk Road, Benwell, admitted supplying £40 wraps of cocaine on five occasions between November 4 and 12 and was jailed for two years and seven months.
Iqbal’s barrister said he had sold cannabis for a limited period to help him save up to buy his own taxi and said he was not a cocaine dealer or user and had simply facilitated a cocaine deal with Khan on one occasion.
Iqbal lost his job as a taxi driver when police informed his employers of his arrest on the drugs charges.
The court heard he has a partner and child and has now quit drugs.
Khan’s barrister said he started taking cocaine after losing his job as a taxi driver and began dealing to fund his £50 a day habit.
In another case, Klodian Maleti, 23, of Baxter Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, admitted one offence of supplying cocaine to an undercover officer called ‘Chris’ on October 13 last year for £50.
He was given a two year suspended prison sentence with 200 hours unpaid work and a six month curfew.
The court heard he had come to the UK in 1999 from war-torn Kosovo and got addicted to drugs while at university but is intelligent, hard-working and is now off drugs and extremely remorseful.
The sentences of six other people who have admitted drugs offences were adjourned until later this year.