'Proud dad', 35, who dealt huge amounts of Class A drugs dies behind bars

John Digweed was found dead in prison -Credit:Liverpool Echo
John Digweed was found dead in prison -Credit:Liverpool Echo

A convicted drug dealer known by the Encrochat handle 'Diorpaw' has died behind bars. John Digweed died at HMP Garth in Lancashire today, the Prison Service confirmed.

Digweed was serving a 25-year prison sentence for supplying vast amounts of cocaine and heroin. An investigation into the death has begun.

The 'proud dad' was sentenced in 2022 after being unmasked as a drug dealer who shifted 40 kilos of class A drugs, using the name 'Diorpaw' on Encrochat, an encrypted communications network which operated as a 'WhatsApp for criminals'.

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Today a Prison Service spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News: "John Digweed died at HMP Garth on 13 April and our thoughts are his family and friends. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate."

It is understood his next of kin have been informed.

Digweed used Encrochat to organise the supply of cocaine and heroin during the spring of 2020, his sentencing hearing was told in 2022. The then 33-year-old tried to deny he was behind the handle 'DiorPaw but a jury saw through his lies, the Liverpool Echo reported.

A judge told the 'proud dad' his messages about his children played a significant role in police being able to identify him. Henry Riding, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court Digweed was convicted of conspiracy to supply a range of Class A and Class B drugs including cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, ketamine, cannabis and ecstasy.

He said Digweed mainly appeared to trade drugs to other dealers in Devon and Cornwall, though other locations across Britain were mentioned in his messages to other criminals. In his messages to other dealers, Digweed made clear his focus was on 'swilling', or diluting drugs, in order to increase his profit.

One message read: "Got 5-6 swills on tomorrow and I’ve got 5 different people I need to make for."

The court heard Digweed, of Harlech Road in Crosby, Liverpool, sent messages to other dealers referencing his kids and birthday parties he was planning, helping police to trace him when the Encrochat system was finally hacked by French law enforcement.

He also sent other messages allowing them to be sure of his identity. One image sent to him by another criminal showed a block of cannabis labelled 'Johnny Weed'. His response was: “HaHaHaHa lad who’s done that, its only missing dig out the name. My name is Johnny Digweed init.”

Digweed was arrested in March 2021 and convicted of seven counts of conspiracy to supply drugs in addition to one count of money laundering.

Prosecutors said he could be connected to the supply of at least 30 kilos of cocaine and 12 and a half kilos of heroin. Paul Becker, defending, told Judge David Swinnerton Digweed and his family were extremely close and the prospect of a long stint behind bars was 'a matter of great distress' for them.

Judge Swinnerton said Digweed was a 'proud dad' who behaved in a 'close, loving and supportive' way towards his family while blighting communities across the UK with drugs. He added that his messages about his children had enabled police to identify him through his messages. Digweed was jailed for 25 years.