A CARLISLE man and three teenagers have been locked up for their roles in a criminal county lines “cuckooing” operation.
Carlisle Crown Court heard today how frail 61-year-old city drug addict Douglas Dallas Foster – a man in ill health – was “moved out” of his flat and deprived of his keys by the young drug-peddling Manchester-based trio.
Police investigated on March 18 after being alerted to suspicious activity at the Welsh Road address. Nineteen-year-olds Akeem Fatinikun – who was in possession of mobile phones and two knives – Nemiah Fletchman and Cade Steven Higson all tried to flee but were captured.
In the flat was almost £9,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine – some ready-made up into individual deals – along with weighing scales and packaging. Also recovered were business cards advertising a “drugs line” phone number.
Prosecutor Beccy McGregor told the court: “This is an offence of a cuckooing – a gang from Manchester bringing drugs into Carlisle. It is clearly street dealing.”
Fatinikun, of Julius Street; university student and promising tennis player Fletchman, of Albert Grove; and Higson, of The Meadows, Prestwich, all Manchester; each admitted possession of crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply. They were each sentenced to three years’ detention in a young offenders’ institution.
Foster – a man with 133 previous offences to his name – admitted permitting premises to be used for supplying the illicit substances, and was jailed for 12 months.
Judge James Adkin concluded the presence of business cards suggested a “professional enterprise being run for maximum profit”, and stated: “Cuckooing is professional criminality.”
After the case, Detective Inspector Andrew Donnelly said: “Those sentenced today have come to Cumbria from the Manchester area in the misguided belief they are choosing a soft target.
“In the course of their criminality, they have identified and targeted vulnerable drug users. However, thanks to a professional and diligent investigation involving Cumbria Police officers in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service, these men have successfully been identified, prosecuted and sentenced.
“We will continue to proactively target county lines drugs networks and I would urge anyone with information on such offending to contact the police immediately.”
Rebecca Mcgregor for the CPS said: “These young men targeted a vulnerable man who was addicted to drugs and manipulated him into making his home a safe house for them to run their drugs operation.
“We worked with the police to build a strong case which included telephone evidence that Higson had bragged via text messages about the three of them being in the house with a drug addict.
“When faced with the overwhelming evidence against them they were left with no other option but to plead guilty to the offences they faced.”