Man jailed for 10 years following investigation into child criminal exploitation and drug dealing
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A man has been jailed for 10 years following an investigation into suspected child criminal exploitation and drug dealing in the North West.
A series of warrants were executed warrants in Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire on Tuesday 23rd February as part of Operation Pinecrest, an investigation into the criminal exploitation of a 15-year-old male.
The teenager has been recruited and sent to deal drugs in Chorley where he was housed at the address of a drug user. The user would deal the drugs and return the cash to the teen, who would remain at the address with the drugs and the proceeds before handing the cash to those who had recruited him.
On 25 November 2020 two males armed with a machete forced entry to a property in St Helens and threatened and assaulted the 15-year-old claiming he had returned from Chorley with a cash deficit.
The offenders who had recruited the male included Kieran Gaughan, 26 years, of no fixed address who was arrested on 11 March this year after attempting to evade capture following the warrants.
On Thursday (23 December) he was jailed for a total of 10 years after being convicted of two counts of supplying a controlled drug Class A, two counts of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug Class A to another, possessing a controlled drug of Class A with intent, affray and having a bladed article.
Emily Norman, 20 years, of Festival Avenue, Orford, Warrington, appeared alongside Gaughan and was sentenced for being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs. She received 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with a rehabilitation requirement, and ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge of £156.
Detective Sergeant Ruth Tickle said: “We know that ruthless drug dealers exploit young and vulnerable people in order to line their own pockets, often putting them in dangerous positions. In this case, the teenager they recruited was subjected to a shocking attack as a result of the situation they had put him in.
“These criminals do not respect the vulnerable people they exploit in pursuit of the illegal proceeds of crime, the communities they bring harm and violence to and they do not respect borders as they seek other areas to peddle their illicit drugs.
“With Operation Pinecrest and the ongoing Project Medusa, Merseyside Police is committed to cutting these County Lines dead and – importantly – releasing young, vulnerable people from the bleak situations they have been brought into by callous drug dealers.
“Operation Pinecrest is one of the first County Lines prosecutions to have been led by the experience of a victim in the country, and learning from it has formed part of guidance now shared by the National County Lines co-ordination centre.
“We will continue to work with other forces to trace those responsible and help those who may be exploited by these organised criminal gangs."
“Ultimately everyone should be warned that if you choose to get involved in crime, you risk facing the consequences of time in prison and a criminal record and the impact that can have for the rest of your life.
“But when we identify vulnerable, exploited people during our enquiries, we ensure they are treated with sensitivity and understanding, and are offered the appropriate support. Our primary target is those who seek to use them for their own selfish gain.”