Tesco café worker arrested in store after cocaine dealing exposed

Louise Bugby was arrested at the Tesco supermarket cafe in Pembroke Dock -Credit:Google
Louise Bugby was arrested at the Tesco supermarket cafe in Pembroke Dock -Credit:Google

A Tesco worker was arrested in a store after police discovered that she had become a drug dealer. Louise Bugby, a supervisor at a Tesco café in Wales, was arrested at her workplace after her details were discovered on a drug addict's phone.

In messages recovered from the phone, Bugby she told the addict that her boss was about that day so she couldn't 'sneak out' to complete a drug deal, Wales Online reports. A search of her home then uncovered a stash of ready-to-sell cocaine deals and hundreds of pounds in cash.

The 43-year-old mother-of-four narrowly avoided prison after being told that drugs were 'poisoning' communities. Sian Cutter, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court the defendant came to the attention of detectives in Pembroke in November 2022 after they seized a phone from a known user as part of an ongoing operation and found messages from a contact called Louise in which drugs were discussed.

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The Louise number was linked to the defendant, and police knew the drug user had been seen at the Tesco supermarket in Pembroke Dock where Bugby worked. The court heard that in one of the messages sent by the defendant she told her contact she had "3 halves" on her "but my boss is in today so I can't sneak out".

Officers went to the store café on November 9 and arrested the defendant at work. Ms Cutter said Bugby admitted having drugs on her and when officers conducted a search they found 0.38g of cocaine. A subsequent search of the defendant's house turned up 14 underweight half-gram deals of the Class A drug worth around £700 along with £665 in cash.

The court heard that when Bugby's phone was examined police found "numerous requests" for cocaine going back to the August of 2022. The defendant answered "no comment" to all questions asked during her two police interviews.

Bugby, 43, of Tenby Court, Monkton, Pembroke, had previously pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and to being concerned in the supply of cocaine over a three month period when she appeared in the dock for sentencing. She has no previous convictions.

The plea had initially been entered on the basis that she had inherited a drug debt from her now former husband Leigh Bugby, a basis which the prosecution rejected and which was subsequently withdrawn. Ms Cutter said: "It is accepted that her husband is in prison for offences against her, but it isn’t accepted she was forced to pay off his drug debt. There is no evidence he had a drug debt."

Defending, Emily Bennett said that Bugby had been in a violent and abusive relationship with Leigh Bugby for 19 years which resulted in a number of convictions for her partner including an assault occasioning actual bodily harm from 2020 and threatening with a knife from October 2022. The barrister said the defendant’s experience of domestic abuse had "clouded her judgement leading to her doing something she wouldn’t normally do".

She said the mother-of-four was now divorced from Leigh Bugby and was in a healthy and stable new relationship, and she said her client had continued to work as a supervisor at the Tesco cafe in the years since her arrest. She added that there were three "glowing" references before the court testifying to Bugby being a devoted mother and a hard worker.

Judge Huw Rees said Class A drugs were "poisoning" communities all over Wales causing social dysfunction, injury and even death which is why people who dealt in them invariably went to prison. He said it was clear from everything he had read about the defendant that her husband had been abusive and controlling during the relationship and it "defied common sense" that he had not known about the drug dealing that was going on.

The judge said sentencing in every case was fact specific, and given all the circumstances and everything he knew about the defendant - including the delay in the case which he characterised as the police "dragging their feet intolerably" - he would take the expectational step of not imposing immediate custody.

With a one-quarter discount for her pleas Bugby was sentenced to 22 months in prison suspended for 24 months for each of the two offences to run concurrently. She must also complete a rehabilitation course and do 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

The prosecution barrister said police had proved a "chronology" of events regarding the delay rather than an explanation for it, and Judge Rees said: "The police should be told the court is not content with the delay and the nature of the explanation."