Well-Organised Gang Used Drones to Deliver Drugs to Inmates, Court Told

A “well-organised” gang used drones to fly class A drugs and mobile phones into UK jails, delivering contraband straight to inmates’ windows, a court has heard.

It is alleged that Lee Anslow, while he was a serving prisoner at HMP Hewell in Worcestershire, conspired to set up deliveries at prisons around the country, flown in by a pilot on the outside.

When prison officers raided his cell they found fake food cans packed with cannabis, crack cocaine and sim cards, which prosecutors claim were drone-delivered.

He is charged with being at the centre of a “spider-web of activity”, conspiring with four others to bring drugs, mobile phones and sim cards into jail between April 2016 and June 2017.

Stella Deakin, who is alleged to have driven the drone pilot, and inmates Shane Hadlington, Paul Ferguson and Stefan Rattray are standing trial with Anslow at Birmingham Crown Court.

All five are also charged with bringing Mamba and other psychoactive drugs into British jails between May and June 2017.

The drone operator, Brandon Smith, 24, of Kingstanding Road, Tipton, has already admitted his part in the conspiracy, jurors were told.

opening the case on Thursday, Michelle Heeley, prosecuting, told a jury of nine men and three women they would hear telephone evidence which suggested Anslow was “organising drone deliveries throughout numerous prisons” and that he was linked to jails and inmates in the case.

She added that while he was “not directly seen” retrieving packages, he was “one of the main organisers”.

The Crown has alleged parcels of contraband – worth up to £20,000 a time at prison prices – were delivered, often hanging from a length of weighted fishing line tied to the drone, to cell windows, recovered with a hook, and then sold on the inside.

In April 2017, a drone was seized from a Vauxhall Corsa parked in a lane near HMP Hewell, and its microchip showed it had made eight flights to the jail near Redditch.

Ms Heeley said the prosecution would show how the defendants were “inter-linked”.

Deakin, Hadlington’s girlfriend, was stopped in a Volkswagen Golf carrying a drone after a package was delivered to HMP Wymott, Lancashire, where her partner was serving time.

He had served a sentence alongside Rattray, while Anslow was a former cellmate of Ferguson, the court heard.

Ms Heeley said: “This gang changed phones frequently to try and avoid detection, they were organised and active across the country.”

Drone deliveries were made to HMP Oakwood, HMP Featherstone and HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire, HMP Wymott, HMP Birmingham, HMP Liverpool, HMP Hewell, and HMP Risley in Cheshire.

Ms Heeley told jurors: “These defendants were responsible for the supply of drugs and phones into prisons across the country.

“They used whatever methods they could, including flying drones carrying drugs straight to prison cell windows.

“All of them deny they were part of any agreement to take items in prison. The prosecution say you can be sure they were.”

The Crown’s barrister said: “Once you start putting the pieces together you can see how this group worked, flyers using unregistered phones to link up with prisoners like Anslow. Then arranging flights, using people like Deakin to drive them to prisons, with Hadlington, Ferguson and Stefan Rattray collecting the deliveries on the inside.

“The evidence shows this well-organised group working together.

“Once you have analysed it all, heard from the witnesses and looked at the documents you can be sure they are all guilty as charged.”

Anslow, 31, Ferguson, 27, Deakin, 40, of Boundary Hill, Dudley, Hadlington, 29, of Clay Lane, Oldbury, and Rattray, 28, of Attingham Drive, Dudley, deny all charges.

The trial, estimated to last six weeks, continues.

Prison assault on ex-soldier was ‘terrorist attack’

2paraThe Times has reported that a former paratrooper on remand in prison has been severely beaten by a gang in a “terrorist attack”, it was alleged yesterday.

Eight men assaulted Craig Jones in his cell at Hewell prison, West Midlands. One of the gang members is alleged to be a Muslim serving ten years for causing the death of a soldier by dangerous driving in 2014.

Jones, formerly of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, had only recently arrived at the jail and was targeted because of his military service, a source said. “I was told he had a fractured eye socket, they sliced up his face and beat him to within an inch of his life. It was a major incident,” the source added.

Jones was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated. He is expected to be returned to prison shortly.

A Prison Service spokesman confirmed that an incident had taken place and said that a police and prison investigation had been started.

“A prisoner at HMP Hewell was taken to hospital following an incident on Saturday, January 9,” the spokesman said. “The circumstances are being investigated by both the police and the prison, and we will take action against anyone found to have been involved.”

The Muslim inmate was jailed in October. He had already been banned from driving when he sped through a red light at almost 70mph and ploughed into the back of a car being driven by the soldier, killing him instantly.

He ignored the carnage at the scene and ran off, but four witnesses wrestled him to the ground. The victim had served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and received full military honours at his funeral.

Nick Hardwick, the outgoing chief inspector of prisons, expressed concern last month about the threat posed by Muslim gangs in jails, including fears that they may be radicalising vulnerable inmates.

He said prison officers should not be deterred from tracking gang-related activity if the members of the gangs were Muslims.

One prison governor said that the growing influence of Muslim gangs was a major issue for the jail system. The governor said that many prisoners were so fearful of Muslims that they formed alliances with them for protection.

Others, however, say that some inmates were attracted to joining Muslim gangs because they were seen as the latest powerful group in Britain’s jails.

Prison sources said that the attack on Jones was not being investigated as a racist incident, but was thought to be linked to a dispute over tobacco.

Hewell prison holds 1,266 remand and sentenced prisoners. A prison inspection report in 2014 found significant levels of violence, including some serious attacks. The previous year there was an attempted murder. The report said prisoner-on-prisoner assaults were high and that they were often linked to debt, which arose because of delays in new inmates receiving orders of tobacco from the jail’s shop.

Police Plea To Missing Child Killer

hmp-hewell-alan-giles

Detectives will spend a fourth day hunting for a convicted child killer who absconded from prison in Worcestershire.

West Mercia Police are concerned about the state of mind of Alan Giles, who was jailed for life in 1997, and have made a direct appeal for him to hand himself in.

Giles left HMP Hewell in Redditch on foot at about 11am on Monday.

Chief Inspector Paul Judge urged the public to report any sightings of the 56-year-old immediately.

Mr Judge told a press conference in Redditch that inquiries to locate Giles were centred on the local area, including parts of south Warwickshire.

The officer said: “We are concerned as Giles has been missing since Monday morning and we are urging the public to help us find him.

“We are concerned about his state of mind as a result of information we have received after he went missing and I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to him to hand himself in directly to the nearest police station or contact us by phone so that we can resolve this matter.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in order to find Giles and we will provide whatever resources are required in order to achieve that.

“I would also urge anyone who is helping him or sheltering him to contact us without delay.”

Giles, originally from the Oldbury area of the West Midlands, was given a 19-year tariff for the 1995 kidnap and murder of teenager Kevin Ricketts.

The 16-year-old victim’s body was not found until 1998, after Giles asked to speak to detectives from West Midlands Police while serving his sentence.

Giles, who would have been eligible to apply for parole next year, is believed to have absconded from an “open” section of the prison.

Staff at the jail checked on Giles at 6am on Monday, when he was in his cell, but found he was missing at 11am.

No one else is thought to have been involved in helping the on-the-run killer, who may have used the public transport network to leave the area.

It is understood measures have been taken to ensure the safety of members of Kevin’s family, who have been informed that Giles is at large.

Mr Judge added: “We can’t underestimate the fact that Giles was convicted of murder and kidnap, however we have no specific information that gives us concern for any members of the public.”

Giles, who has had recent contact with family in the West Midlands, is described as white, 5ft 9ins, and of proportionate build with short grey hair and blue eyes.

He has tattoos of an eagle on his back and a swallow, shark and flower on his left arm.

It is believed Giles is wearing a grey Rockport sweater, blue jeans and white Asics trainers.