Wales Tesco café worker was found to be running huge cocaine operation in between serving customers

The Tesco store where Louise Bugby worked at
The Tesco store where Louise Bugby worked at -Credit:Google

A Tesco cafe supervisor was arrested at work for cocaine dealing, a court has heard. Louise Bugby's phone revealed a message to a customer explaining that she couldn't "sneak out" to complete a drug deal because her boss was present.

A subsequent search of the cafe worker's house uncovered a stash of ready-to-sell cocaine deals and hundreds of pounds in cash. A judge told the 43-year-old that Class A drugs were "poisoning" communities across Wales and that was why dealers invariably went to prison - though he said in her case he was going to take the exceptional course of imposing a suspended sentence, reports WalesOnline.

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 cafe 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.

Louise Bugby, aged 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." For the latest court reports, sign up to our crime newsletter here

Emily Bennett, for Bugby, said the defendant had been in a violent and abusive relationship with Leigh Bugby for some 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."

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