THE final player in the Locks Network drugs conspiracy has been jailed for almost three years after missing his sentencing date while in police custody.
Shane Harper, 23, of no fixed abode, was due to be sentenced with co-conspirators Ares Agnelli, 26, Rahim Moussa, 24, Barkhad Jama, 29, Valentino Aloba, 24, and Gary Turner, 34, on July 9, but missed the hearing as he had been arrested for separate offences the previous day.
A warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to turn up at court that day while he sat in the cells, but Harper was sentenced to 32 months in prison yesterday at Swindon Crown Court.
Between June and December last year undercover police tracked the Locks Network and used stop and search to keep tabs on the dealers.
Three officers infiltrated town centre users to make test purchases from the gang.
Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told the court that Harper had acted as a runner for the group but played a significant part.
“There was a broad hierarchy put before the court with Agnelli taking a supervisory role over the other drug dealers and runners involved in the conspiracy,” she said.
“It has never been suggested Harper was anything other than a street runner or supplier of Class A drugs. This seemed to be a very similar scenario of drug sellers coming down from London and settling in a town to sell to the locals.”
Harper was stung when one of the undercover officers, met him to place an order last December.
“Harper came in later on in the life of the conspiracy where one of the officers phoned the number he had at that time and spoke to somebody known as Locks and was directed to an address on Cricklade Road,” said Ms Squire. “At that address a man on a bike came to him and took particular orders. That man was Harper.
“The items ordered were two wraps of heroin, and the exchange was photographed by surveillance officers close by.
“Harper was searched and found to have seven wraps of heroin on him. A further search took place at the address Harper was seen to come from, and at that address were two of the other co-conspirators. Money handed to Harper was found at that address.
“Harper had a significant role and was motivated by financial or other advantages.”
Tony Bignall, defending, said: “The pre-sentence report shows this is someone with an unstable and chaotic lifestyle.”
Earlier this month Agnelli, of Graham Street, Turner, of Frobisher Drive, Aloba, of Westcott Place, Harper, of no fixed abode, Moussa, of Gooch Street, and Jama, of West Drayton, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Judge Tim Mousley QC, sentencing Harper, said: “This was a conspiracy that went on for five months. Your part in it was as a runner. In addition you had an awareness of the scale of the operation over a significant period and you got involved in order to make money out of it. You were a significant player.”
Harper will also have to pay £120 victim surcharge and will face a proceeds of crime hearing next month.