Dealer who bragged 'can't stop, won't stop' thanks judge as he's jailed

Thomas Corlett, 32,  is wanted by police on recall to prison
Thomas Corlett -Credit:Cheshire Police

A drug dealer boasted "can't stop, won't stop" as he flogged heroin and crack cocaine to users "on a daily basis".

Thomas Corlett was paid £150 a day to act as the "controller" of the "BB Line" graft phone. After he was caught, he held his hands up and confessed he had "picked on vulnerable people for his own personal gain".

Liverpool Crown Court heard on, Thursday, April 11, that the 34-year-old was identified as the "controller" of the "BB Line", a county lines drug dealing operation supplying heroin and crack cocaine in the Warrington area. This saw "flare" messages advertising illicit substances for sale sent out to users from a Nokia burner phone "on an almost daily basis" between February 20 and March 6 this year.

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Christopher Taylor, prosecuting, read out examples of the texts utilised by the gang, including references to "10s and 20s", "on all day" and "get your orders in". Another, described as a "bold statement", read: "On as always. Can't stop, won't stop."

Corlett - formerly of Duxford Court in Padgate, Warrington - was arrested after being seen leaving an address on Windrows in Skelmersdale in the company of a female on March 12. He then entered a Citroen Berlingo van which was stopped by the police, with the graft phone being found on charge inside along with two further mobiles.

A search of the house then revealed crack cocaine worth an estimated £6,170 and cocaine with a street value of £2,220. A motorbike, £6,180 in cash, a small quantity of cannabis and a "drug testing kit" were also seized.

Under interview, Corlett made "refreshingly full and detailed admissions" and "accepted running the drugs line". He admitted to detectives he had "picked on vulnerable persons for his own personal gain", having become "involved alongside his mates" upon his release from prison.

However, the defendant stated the phone was not his own and he was being paid £150 in order to man it. Corlett has seven previous convictions for eight offences - including 34 months in a young offenders' institute for robbery and possession of a bladed article in a public place, nine months for offering to supply cannabis in 2017, a term of five years and 10 months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice, dangerous driving, harassment and criminal damage later the same year and 30 months for two counts of making threats with a bladed article in November 2022.

Gary Lawrenson, defending, told the court: "He takes me back to another era. He is old school and honest in his approach. He had a very difficult upbringing. At the age of 13, his mother died of liver failure - the reason for which really speaks for itself, it was because of alcohol abuse.

"It was against that background that he grew up. His father died just a few years later of heart failure for similar reasons.

"It is perhaps not surprising that he has had mental health issues since his early teens. His mum was the same age he is now when she died. He is in danger of becoming institutionalised. He says to me, frankly, that in prison he feels mentally and physically better."

Corlett pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin and crack cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of criminal property and failing to provide a sample for analysis. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse, he was jailed for three years.

Sentencing, Judge Anil Murray said: "You have got previous convictions for serious offences. You were running this phone line for about three weeks. You were identified as the controller. You were frank with the police and said you were running the drugs line, being paid £150 a day.

"You said it was not your operation, and the prosecution accept that. I have taken into account your personal issues. You had a difficult upbringing. I accept that, but you are 34 now and you need to start making your own decisions that are not based on the past.

"You need to start to change yourself. Otherwise you are going to find yourself serving a life sentence by instalments, because the sentences are going to get longer and longer."

Corlett replied: "Thank you, your honour."

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