Drugs gang caught with £40k of ecstasy pills disguised as cat food after ex-GMP worker warning

(Top) Callum Hindle, Adrian Fox, (bottom left) Pearce Dowling, Charlie Jacob, who have been sentenced for drug offences
-Credit: (Image: GMP)

A drugs gang who had not been involved in crime before have been jailed for flooding Manchester's streets with drugs after a £40k package of MDMA was seized at the border. Further investigations discovered that a former GMP employee had tried to warn the gang they were being investigated.

Police raided a property on Dale View in Denton on November 21, 2019 following the discovery of the package. Border Force intercepted a parcel for 'S Dowling' from the Netherlands in October for 8 Dale View.

The package, disguised as cat food, was found to contain MDMA tablets with a street value of more than £40,000, Minshull Crown Court heard in a two day hearing. Prosecuting, Adrian Farrow, said that the Dale View property was rented by Pearce Dowling, 26, who used his middle name beginning with 'S' to try and hide his identity, with the rent being paid for by another defendant, Charlie Jacob, 25.

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After this package for Dowling was intercepted by border force, the Dale View property was raided, with Dowling and co-defendant Callum Hindle, 26, at the property at the time. 28 cannabis plants were found in the property, with electricity diverted from the meter to conceal it.

Another defendant, Abby Latham, 22, was arrested with Jacob on December 23 2019 and charged with assisting an offender. Latham was working for GMP on the reception of the Great Manchester Police Digital Investigation Unit, but was under investigation in connection with this work.

Her work involved the booking in and out of electronic devices which had been seized for examination. Colleagues had noticed her taking an interest in how Snapchat messages could be retrieved during investigations, as it it commonly believed messages are deleted after being seen.

Pearce Dowling
Pearce Dowling -Credit:GMP

Back in May 2019 mobile phones were seized from two individuals and examined at the digital investigation unit. It was soon discovered that Abby Latham had been in contact with one of the phones. A later examination of Latham's phone revealed that she herself was a drug user, and had messaged Jacob warning him about the phone seizures as it could reveal his extensive criminal dealings, the court heard.

Latham had tried to warn Jacob that that police could retrieve messages sent over Snapchat, and to not use that communication for drug dealing activity in case his phone was seized. "This was the first of two overt messages designed by Abby Latham to assist Charlie Jacob in his unlawful drug supply," Mr Farrow told the court.

"The messaging between Charlie Jacob and Abby Latham supports the other evidence that he was involved, together with Pearce Dowling and others in the supply of MDMA, cocaine, ketamine and cannabis on a large scale over a significant period of time and at least between May 16 2019 and November 22 2019, " Mr Farrow said. More evidence also revealed Jacobs lived a 'lavish' lifestyle from his drug dealing, with holidays to Amsterdam, Dubai, and America as well as stays at luxury hotels.

During the raid at Dale View later that year a vacuum sealing machine was found, which is used to seal packages of drugs to avoid detection. The court heard this was examined by police with ketamine and cannabis residue found on the machine. Mr Farrow said this showed evidence of its use for previous packaging of both of those drugs.

Charlie Jacob
Charlie Jacob -Credit:GMP

A cardboard box in the same utility room was found which contained a quantity of MDMA and skunk cannabis. Amongst this the fingerprints of Jacob, Hindle, and defendants Jake Roach, 28, of Ottawa Close, Manchester, and Delroy Wiggan, 33, of Plant Hill Road, Manchester, were found.

Roach pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis saying he acted as a courier that brought the cannabis found with his fingerprints from Romford in Essex earlier in November 2019, delivering it to Dale View. Mr Farrow told the court: "During the journey, there was contact between Jake Roach’s phone and the phones belonging to Pearce Dowling and Charlie Jacob, from which the prosecution say that it is safe to conclude that the cannabis was brought at the direction of Pearce Dowling and Charlie Jacob in furtherance of their conspiracy to supply it."

Roach also made a number of calls to Wiggan the day after the raid at Dale View. Wiggan pleaded guilty to possession of the cannabis found to supply it to a 'network' of street dealers. An extensive amount of cocaine, cannabis, ketamine, and MDMA were found throughout Dale View during the search. Police also recovered an expensive jacket and trainers from Dowling, as well as an encrypted phone with a Dutch SIM card and a new iPhone.

Dowling said he was responsible for the cannabis farm in police interview, putting it together with Jacob, the court heard. "He maintained that the other drugs and paraphernalia belonged to Charlie Jacob and he was frightened of him," Mr Farrow added. It was heard that Jacob was paying the £600 per month rent on the property, not Dowling. "He described Charlie Jacob as a drug dealer without a legitimate source of income," Mr Fowler said.

"He was released pending interrogation of his mobile phone and scientific analysis. The mobile phone examination revealed clear evidence of Dowling and Jacob involved together in the supply of drugs. Other messages also showed that Dowling was involved in the transfer of money to Jacob," Mr Fowler told the court.

Callum Hindle
Callum Hindle -Credit:GMP

The seizure of Hindle's phone showed contact between Jacob and Dowling, making it clear he both used drugs and was also a supplier of drugs, the prosecution said. Hindle's drug dealing stretched back to 2015. Hindle is alleged to have carried on dealing after his arrest in November 2019.

In the raid in 2019, the fingerprints of Adrian Fox, 30, of Lower Edge Avenue, Oldham, were found on a bag of cannabis. He was arrested on July 26 2020 as he arrived in Manchester on a flight back from Amsterdam. On arrest, a packet of 10 cannabis plant seeds was seized along with his black iPhone.

Messages on his phone showed Fox had travelled to five different countries in 2020 despite a declared income of just over £6,000, the court heard. Other messages revealed that he had grown cannabis at his partners mother's home, a woman named Angela Miles, 47, of Dufton Walk, Manchester.

Ms Miles and Fox's partner, Kiana Miles29, also of Dufton Walk, 'clearly took direction from Fox in relation to the cannabis', the prosecution said. This property was raided in April 2020 with cannabis plants found.

Adrian Fox
Adrian Fox -Credit:GMP

This showed, the prosecution say, that Fox continued to deal drugs after the Dale View property was raided, and when he was arrested he was found in possession of a Rolex and a gold chain.

David Toal, representing Charley Jacob, told the court "in reality this enterprise is one that involved the supplying of drug users as opposed to dealings for wholesale". He also argued that Jacob had been drug free since his arrest and had not committed any more crimes.

Ronnie Bergenthal, defending Pearce Dowling, described that he was 'very candid and open' during police interviews' and 'gave full admissions to police at an early stage’. Dowling had also found employment since his arrest.

All pleaded guilty to the charges put before them at the hearing. Sentencing, Judge John Potter, described this as a 'remarkable case' as the main offenders had no previous convictions, despite these crimes being so 'serious'.

Jacob, of Moss Bank Avenue, Droylsden, received the biggest sentence of 10 years for conspiracy to supply Methylamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, cannabis, and fraud. Dowling, of Boothdale Drive, Audenshaw, received nine years and nine months for conspiracy to fraudulently evade a prohibition, as well as supplying methylamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, and cannabis. He also received a concurrent sentence for money laundering and producing cannabis.

Hindle, of Withnell Road, Manchester, represented by Colin Buckle, was given seven years and six months for conspiracy to supply MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine. Fox, represented by Amanda Johnson, was the last to receive a a prison sentence. He was given 32 months for producing cannabis, supplying cannabis, and possessing criminal property.

The rest of the defendants received suspended sentences. Abby Latham was given a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years, for her charge of assisting an offender.

Angela Miles was handed eight months suspended for two years for production and supply of cannabis as well as possession of criminal property. Kiana Miles was given the same sentence for the charge of producing cannabis.

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