TWO glamour models from Stonnall have been given jail sentences for their part in a major drug-dealing ring which involved tens of thousands of pounds worth of illegal substances.
Undercover cops kept watch on suspects, intercepted drugs in transit, seized them at addresses and found a cannabis “farm” at a house, Stafford Crown Court heard.
As a result, a total of nine people were convicted of various conspiracy offences to supply cocaine, amphetamine or cannabis, with eight of the gang being jailed for a total of over 20 years.
Three of the woman involved with the drugs ring had careers in glamour modelling and had appeared in magazines and newspapers.
Jennifer Laird, aged 22, from Main Street, Stonnall was jailed for three years and four months after admitting conspiracies to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Hannah Zebedee, 21, also of Main Street, Stonnall admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and 150 hours of community service.
Fellow glamour model Ashlea Massey (21) from Loughshaw, Tamworth, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and was jailed for three years.
Lichfield man Trevor Greatrex (41), of Meadowbrook Road, Lichfield, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis but was convicted following trial and jailed for 21 months.
But according to Mr Patrick Darby, prosecuting, the person at the heart of the conspiracies was Ronald Finnegan, who at the time of the offences was living in Saffron, Amington.
He was working with Neil Holland from Brownhills as his right-hand man.
Mr Darby said the events leading up to the arrests started with a police investigation into drug dealing in the Tamworth area in 2009.
On January 5 of that year, a Peugeot driven by Andrew Dutton picked up Finnegan in Tamworth and went to High Street, Bloxwich.
It led to the discovery of a cannabis growing set-up; there was 45 plants under cultivation in a flat rented by Dutton, who was claiming housing benefit. The electricity meter had been bypassed.
On March 4, after observations were kept on Finnegan’s address in Tamworth, a quantity of amphetamines was found hidden in a lorry driven by a co-accused, Mark Addis.
In July, a man from Liverpool, Christopher Brown, met Finnegan at a supermarket in Tamworth and police subsequently seized 1.67kilos of amphetamines from Brown’s car.
The following month, Holland borrowed Finnegan’s Mercedes to drive to take his daughter to a photo-shoot in London.
It was stopped on the M1 and 177g of high-purity amphetamine seized.
A car chase by undercover officers on October 29 resulted in the arrest of Finnegan and Trevor Greatrex, and the seizure of 24 bars of cannabis.
The car was abandoned in Pennine Way, Stonydelph, Tamworth, the engine still running.
Finnegan was found hiding in the bedroom of a house he had broken into, and although Greatrex temporarily evaded police, he was later captured.
The investigation continued with the execution of a search warrant at Laird’s home on January 6 last year.
Massey was there and officers went on to search her home, where just over 6g of cocaine was found.
Also seized were mobile phones belonging to the two women, which revealed text messages between them and Zebedee relating to drugs.
Zebedee was the last defendant to be arrested, on April 7 last year.
The full list of those arrested and charged is:
Ronald Finnegan (45), previously of Saffron, Tamworth, now of Wyre Close, Walsall Wood; admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamine and cannabis – jailed for four years and six months;
Neil Holland (44), of Friezland Lane, Brownhills; admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamine – jailed for three years and six months;
Christopher Brown (29), of Waterloo Road, Crosby, Liverpool; admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamine – jailed for two years in his absence and a warrant has been issued for his arrest;
Mark Addis (29), of Chester Road, Brownhills; admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamine – jailed for 18 months;
Andrew Dutton (21), of Mackay Road, Walsall; admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis – jailed for 18 months;
Mr Peter Woodall, for Laird, said she had been misusing drugs since the age of 11.
“She has found a niche in modelling and now faces losing the one thing that provides some security, the one thing she worked so hard to achieve.”
Mr Stefan Kolodynski, for Finnegan, told the court: “The impression given may be of a highly organised gang acting in strict agreement with a view to amassing large sums of money.
“This is not that type of conspiracy.
“This was a far looser association, the individuals knew each other, they all used a particular type of drug to a greater or lesser extent.
“It was a haphazard distribution [of drugs] by those addicted to drugs.”