COURT: Six 'played key roles in flooding town with drugs'

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

Four men and two women played key roles in a county lines operation which flooded a coastal town with heroin and crack cocaine, a jury has heard.

The defendants were said to be members of a conspiracy led by Michael Emeofa, 20, who set up a drugs network targeting Barrow-in-Furness over a 10-month period.

South Londoner Emeofa's involvement with the town came through his friendship with two students, Daniel Olaloko and Peter Adebayo, who ran their own drugs enterprise from their halls of residence in 2017 and 2018, Preston Crown Crown was told.

Prosecutor Richard Archer said Emeofa learned how county lines operated when he acted as a runner for the men who studied at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

By March 2018 Emeofa decided to set up his own operation as Olaloko and Adebayo went on to be arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and were remanded in custody.

Mr Archer said that a base for drug dealing activity was set up at an address in Coventry occupied by Emeofa's friends, Princewill Enaruba, 24, and Shanice Knight, 24.

Emeofa would often visit the rented property in Signals Drive and some of the drug runners used in Barrow passed through Coventry, he said.

Both Enaruba and his girlfriend, Knight, had enrolled at Coventry University before dropping out, with the latter said to have provided the conspiracy with a "veneer of legitimacy" as the tenant.

Three other defendants, Deborah Abolaji, 20, Robert Russell, 43, - a self confessed Class A drug user from Barrow - and Richard Cleary, 52, are alleged to have acted as drivers as part of the conspiracy.

A sixth defendant, Callum Gentle, 18, was recruited by Emeofa and "installed" in Barrow to be a drugs runner.

Gentle claims he owed a debt and was effectively exploited as a modern slave but the Crown say that although he was young he was not compelled to act as he did and could have sought support.

Mr Archer said that undercover officers had followed the activities of those involved in "peddling misery" on the streets of the town by posing as buyers.

He said that more than 20 people had already admitted their guilt in the conspiracy.

He said: "It has been proved there was a conspiracy or agreement in existence. The issue in this trial is whether the defendants joined the conspiracy and played a part in it."

Enaruba, of Signals Drive, Coventry; Gentle, of High Road, Essex; Abolaji, of Spalding Court, Roberts Way, Hatfield; Russell, of Worcester Street, Barrow; Cleary, of Jonathan Road, Coventry, and Knight, of Signals Drive, Coventry, all deny conspiracy to supply Class A drugs between March 2018 and January 2019.

Enaruba and Cleary also deny the same charge in relation to a separate alleged county lines operation.

The trial continues.