Garage owner among a gang of 20 criminals smuggling drugs

Mark Fishwick at Penwortham MOT Service & Repair Centre. Photo Neil Cross

Mark Fishwick at Penwortham MOT Service & Repair Centre. Photo Neil Cross

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A WELL-known garage director is among more than 20 criminals netted as part of a probe into the intended supply of £5m of drugs.

Penwortham MOT Centre owner Mark Fishwick, 47, and former Northwich Victoria Football Club director James Rushe, 55, from Runcorn, are beginning six year jail terms.

James Rushe, 47, of Runcorn Road, Runcorn, jailed for 6 years for a drug conspiracy

James Rushe, 47, of Runcorn Road, Runcorn, jailed for 6 years for a drug conspiracy

Fishwick, of Greencroft, Penwortham was among more than 20 men investigated by Titan, the North West’s regional organised crime unit, in a 12 month operation which led to seven major drug seizures.

The conspiracy was led by Paul Berry, 47, of Abbey Walk, Preston and Stephen Reeves, 47, from Skelmersdale, who controlled a network of criminal associates to transport drugs using vans and lorries disguised as legitimate commercial vehicles.

Titan officers intercepted a £300k cocaine haul as it was transported to Preston by Berry and Reeves’ couriers, and found Fishwick and Berry had exchanged texts giving the postcode for Penwortham MOT Centre, and had tried to find out why the drug delivery was overdue.

Earlier in the investigation, detectives found Berry, Fishwick and Rushe had met at a pub in Woolston , Warrington, to organise the supply of cocaine by Berry’s couriers to Fishwick and Rushe.

After a raid at Fishwick’s home and business on June 25 officers found damning texts on two mobiles in which he discussed large payments with Rushe. Rushe was arrested and admitted knowing Fishwick through Fishwick’s son playing for his team. He claimed the meeting with Berry was to discuss a “sponsorship deal” for the club by Berry’s van lease business.

Jurors at Liverpool Crown Court unanimously found Fishwick and Rishe guilty of conspiracy to supply drugs.

Det Supt Jason Hudson, head of operations, said: “James Rushe and Mark Fishwick are common criminals who thought that by being businessmen they could get away with being involved in large scale drug dealing. They were wrong. They did not get away with it and have now suffered a huge fall from grace.

“Instead of enjoying the profits from their careers in business, they are embarking on six year sentences and the consequences that come with such significant sentences.”