A 64-year-old man living in sheltered housing has been jailed after being caught with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs for supply.
Robert Quelch, of George Gay Gardens, Park South, had more than 6kg of amphetamines and 3kg of cannabis as well as huge amounts of cutting agents and more than £50,000 in cash.
And when one of his homes was searched, detectives found a vacuum packing machine which had been used for sealing the airtight bags of drugs.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how police, acting on information, stopped the defendant’s Mercedes on Tuesday, July 5, 2011.
The car had entered Marlborough Road from the A419 and when officers asked him if he had any drugs in the vehicle, he replied ‘In the boot’.
When they looked they found four plastic sweet boxes that contained 1.363kg of amphetamines, which could be worth up to £20,000. They also found 2.5kg of cutting agent lactose, worth about £40,000, around 8oz of skunk, worth in the region of £2,000, and 8kg of cannabis resin worth about £4,000.
When an address he had near Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, was searched, police found a vacuum packing machine that had been used to seal some of the drugs in the car. Officers also recovered a further 4.5kg of amphetamines, which were far stronger and could have been worth up to £270k if cut to the sane extent as the other consignment.
They also searched his home in Park South where they found another 140 grams of amphetamines along with tens of thousands of pounds in a safe.
Mr Meeke said: “Here we have from £95,000 wholesale to well over £300,000 worth.”
He told the court that when the defendant was questioned by police he was ‘evasive’ and said he was just doing a favour for a man called Pete, receiving £100 in payment. In reality, Mr Meeke told the court he played a ‘highly significant’ role being involved in cutting, bagging and distributing the drugs and having about £57,400 in cash.
Quelch, but now living in South Wales, pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply.
The court heard he was jailed for four years in 2001 for his part in a massive cigarette smuggling operation.
Ashley Hendron, defending, said his client insisted he was not the main player in the operation and was allowing his premises to be used by other people.
He urged the court to consider his age, pointing out he suffered from arthritis, and impose a suspended sentence.
But jailing him for four-and-a-half years, Judge Douglas Field said: “This is serious offending. The drugs are found in your car and two addresses. I am dealing with substantial quantities of drugs and the cutting agent lactose is found in your car.
“You quite clearly played a quite considerable role. At the Welsh address drugs were found and other paraphernalia. At the Swindon address more drugs were found and drugs and lactose found in your car. You were not just a warehouseman or someone just couriering drugs... you were some playing a considerable role.”
As well as jailing him, he ruled he benefited from crime by £163,779.77p but only had £60,000 which he must sign over in 28 days or face an extra two-year jail term.
Swindon Council run the sheltered housing complex and a spokesman said: “The first time we became aware of this was when we were told by the police that they were investigating.
“We could not have known about it in advance as the people living in sheltered accommodation have their own lives and their own front door.
“There is a cross-section of people living in accommodation like this and unfortunately some people do fall foul of the law.”
Sergeant Scott Hargreave of the Dedicated Crime Team (DCT) said: “The Dedicated Crime Team are pleased with this sentence as Robert Quelch played a major part in the distribution of controlled drugs in Wiltshire. He profited from people buying his drugs to feed their addiction.
“The DCT will continue to target offenders who seek to make profit through the distribution of illicit and illegal drugs in the county.
“Drug abuse and use affects many families and communities in Wiltshire and by working with partner agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and Swindon Borough Council and many others we will continue to seek to reduce the harm and risk that this sort of activity prays on.
“Anyone wishing to report a crime or who has information on a crime should contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.”