A FORMER rapper who sang alongside Ed Sheeran and used to date Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson denies handing over almost a kilogramme of cocaine to a Swindon taxi driver.

Harry Byart, who enjoyed limited chart success in the early 2010s under the name Fugative, is one of five men charged with conspiracy to supply the class A drug into Swindon in September 2017.

The 25-year-old, of Merlin Close, Waltham Abbey, denies handing over a bag containing the drug to cabbie Edson Monteiro de Resende at a late-night handover in the London suburbs.

Opening the case at Bristol Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor Simon Foster said undercover police officers had followed de Resende as he was sent down the M4 from Swindon to pick up the drugs in London on the evening of September 7.

Mr Foster said the taxi driver had been despatched by Marcus Mawire, 24, then living at Hunter’s Grove, Ferndale. Mawire was said to have been in charge of the Swindon end of the operation, arranging the delivery of the consignment with London-based Nahkell Gordon and Harry Byart.

Telephone records showed extensive communication between Mawire and Gordon, the barrister said.

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Hunters Grove, Ferndale Picture: DAVE COX

That communication built up to a “veritable blizzard of phone calls” on September 7, the day of the alleged transfer of the kilogramme block of cocaine.

On that day, de Resende had taken Mawire to a laundrette on Manchester Road in the afternoon, setting off alone in his Ford Tourneo taxi for London after 6pm.

By 9.20pm he was in Hendon, north London, where undercover police spotted two men appearing to get into his car. Under cross examination yesterday afternoon a member of the Wiltshire Police team tailing the taxi was unable to say if the men were carrying a bag or other package.

An hour later, the car was seen in Waltham Abbey. A BMW, allegedly driven by Byart, pulled up alongside the taxi and the windows were rolled down. The Crown claims it was here that the handover took place.

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Nakhell Gordon, as rapper J Avalanche Picture: YOUTUBE

At 11.04pm, de Resende was back on the M4 and heading back to Swindon. Shortly after midnight, police swooped as the Ford pulled into Hunter’s Grove. Tests later revealed the triangular parcel of cocaine left on the passenger seat was of 87 per cent purity, had a wholesale value of around £30,000 to £40,000 and could have been cut down to make around £200,000-worth of street deals.

Interviewed by police, de Resende claimed he had been asked by Mawire to deliver a parcel of medicine to a relative in London. He thought it strange when he was told not to touch a bag handed to him by Byart. He stole a look at the package on his return journey to Swindon and panicked when he realised it was cocaine.

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Harry Byart, rapper Fugative Picture: YOUTUBE

Byart, who as rapper Fugative sang alongside Ed Sheeran and was linked romantically to Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson, told police he had merely been returning a phone charger and other items belonging to fellow musician and co-accused Nakhell Gordon, who raps under the moniker J Avalanche.

“He said Mr Gordon had been in his music studio two or three nights before and had left something behind - a phone charger and a sum of money. He had been asked to hand whose items over to someone in the car,” Mr Foster said.

The prosecutor said at least one member of the alleged conspiracy, whose number appeared on call logs between the group, had not been traced.

Gordon, 32, formerly of Eastwood Close, London, Byart, 25, of Merlin Close, Waltham Abbey, Mawire, 24, of Milton Road, Sittingbourne, Monteiro de Resende, 34, of Pasteur Drive, Swindon, and Dean Mulholland, 28, of Limes Avenue, Swindon, all deny conspiracy to supply cocaine.

The trial continues.