Heroin dealer busted as undercover police catch customer leaving his house

Police custody picture of Sean Cooper
-Credit: (Image: South Wales Police)

A heroin dealer was caught after plain-clothes police officers saw a man acting suspiciously outside his house before briefly going inside, a court has heard. When police stopped and searched the visitor they found he had a wrap containing brown powder and decided to search the property.

Swansea Crown Court heard that inside 56-year-old Sean Hooper's property the officers found a stash of heroin and hundreds of pounds in cash. The defendant's barrister told the court her client had been misusing drugs since the age of 11 but his arrest had been a "wake-up call" and he was now beginning the journey to recovery.

Matt Murphy, prosecuting, said on January 16, 2022, plain-clothes police officers on patrol in Pendrill Street in Neath saw a male acting "suspiciously" outside a house before briefly going inside. When the male emerged he was stopped and searched by the officers and found to be in possession of what the police believed to be heroin.

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The police knocked on the door of the house in question and Hooper answered. Officers then entered the property and carried out a search under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. In the Melin property police found just over 22g of heroin, scales, foil and a DVD with residue of heroin, two phones, and £580 in cash. The defendant was arrested and taken to Swansea Central police station where he answered "no comment" to the majority of questions asked. The court heard that no messages relating to the supply of drugs were found on the seized phones.

Sean Hooper, of Pendrill Street, Melin, Neath, had previously pleaded guilty on the day of trial to possession of heroin with intent to supply. He has 21 previous convictions for 25 offences between May 1996 and 2013 the "majority" of which are for acquisitive offences but including possession of heroin from 2004. For the latest court reports sign up to our crime newsletter here.

Emily Bennett, for Hooper, said the defendant began using drugs at the age of 11 and while he was now taking steps to address his substance misuse and had been heroin-free for four months given his decades of drug abuse the defendant was still at the "beginning of his recovery journey". She said the defendant deeply regrets getting involved in dealing after a period of not offending and she added that her client acted as a primary carer for his elderly parents.

Judge Catherine Richards said heroin ruins lives and devastates communities – something the defendant was, sadly, personally all too aware of – and those who involve themselves in Class A drug dealing know what sentence awaits them if they are caught. The judge described the delay in the case as "not impressive" and said in passing sentence she was mindful of the steps the defendant was taking to address his addiction and of the impact of immediate custody on his parents. With a 10% discount for his late guilty plea Hopper was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He will serve up to half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

The prosecutor said a report before the court from the officer in the case set out the reasons for the delay in the matter coming to court which included the detective's involvement in a number of high-profile drugs cases and his resultant workload and a change in the record management system being used which led to a six- or seven-month delay in the seized drugs being tested.

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