He was sent to prison because of what was on his 'remarkable' graft phone

Darren Duffy
Darren Duffy -Credit:Merseyside Police

A drug dealer boasted his cocaine was "better than anyone's".

Darren Duffy's exploits were brought to an end after police raided his mum's house and discovered his "remarkable" graft phone. Officers also locked up an armed forces veteran who was sleeping on his sofa.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today, Thursday, that Merseyside Police executed a search warrant at the address on Newton Road in St Helens where the 49-year-old was living with his mum on December 4 last year. Michael Heyes, of Laurel Road in Prescot, had also been staying at the property as he was "sofa surfing", having split from his girlfriend.

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Carmel Wilde, prosecuting, described how officers seized "graft phones" from both men at the scene. Duffy's was shown to have sent out a total of 1,230 "flare messages" advertising drugs for sale over a two-month period between October and December last year, or around 20 per day and up to 86 in 24 hours.

Examples of these texts were read to the court and included "on", "best" and "better than anyone's". Ms Wilde highlighted one period of an hour on the evening of October 5 2023, during which 122 calls or messages were sent or received.

Heyes meanwhile gave PCs the password to his own device, which was used to send out 136 individual messages including one reading "on with power, 10 out of 10". This was received by 18 different recipients.

Michael Heyes
Michael Heyes -Credit:Merseyside Police

The 39-year-old has a total of 22 previous convictions for 30 offences. David Birrell, defending the dad-of-two, said: "He was, at the time, a heavy class A drug user. He lost something like 7st. To a degree, he was supplying drugs to fund his own habit.

"He is ex-military and served in Iraq. He tried to live a normal life. He was working in a warehouse but could not cope with the machinery, which triggered his PTSD. He self-medicated.

"To his credit, he has tried to get off drugs. He went cold turkey and he looks well.

Duffy - who has 23 previous convictions for 60 offences, including for supplying class B drugs in 1997 - was said to have been "coerced" into dealing drugs due to a £1,000 debt. Michael Hegarty told the court on his behalf: "The irony is that the line was a line he had used himself many times.

"His health is not good. He has abused drugs for many years. Originally, it was amphetamine. That has had a significant affect on him physically. His speech is very difficult to understand, he has a shambling gait. In effect, he looks like a drug addict.

"A couple of years ago, he lapsed back with heroin and crack cocaine. It has taken its toll on him."

Duffy and Heyes admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine. They were jailed for three years each.

Darren Duffy
Darren Duffy -Credit:Merseyside Police

Sentencing, Recorder Mark Ainsworth said: "The reason that the courts take such a serious view of the supply of class A drugs is because class A drugs wreck lives. They cause havoc within society.

"People become addicted to class A drugs. It has an impact upon their lives, families and relationships.

"It causes devastation. Each of you found yourself involved in the supply of class A drugs because you were each drug users.

"That is how you became drawn into this evil trade. Whatever reason or justification you can find for involving yourself in this, all you were doing was passing on the misery to others."

The judge added to Duffy: "The amount of traffic from your telephone was quite remarkable, even in the context of cases such as this."

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