By Court Reporter 24/04 Updated: 25/04 20:42
THREE men caught out dealing heroin to undercover police officers have each been sent to jail for four years.
Jason Warne, Ian Murray and John Berrill were among more than 40 people arrested in November at the end of Operation Laser, a huge undercover police crackdown on heroin and crack dealers in Rugby.
All three - some of the first to be sentenced after Operation Laser - were told by Judge Marten Coates their arrests had come as a result of police 'cleaning the streets of Rugby from drugs and drug dealers'.
Warne, 38, of Oliver Street, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to conspiring to supply heroin, while Murray, 40, of Pennington Street, admitted to four charges of supplying heroin, and Berrill, also 40, of Millers Dale Close, admitted supplying crack cocaine.
With Berrill appearing first in the dock, prosecutor Gareth Walters told the court how, in September 2010, undercover officers known as Matt and Rachel got talking to him and another man about drugs in St Andrew's gardens.
Berrill said he could get them 'gear', so Rachel gave him £10 and he cycled away, saying he had to pick it up from Brownsover before returning later and handing her a wrap of heroin.
Several more deals were made, and Berrill - himself a heroin user and alcoholic - was arrested in November after Operation Laser.
He admitted supplying the heroin but said he did not see it as dealing and instead described it as 'helping someone who needed drugs'.
David Rees, defending him, said he made no money from his actions, but Judge Coates told him he was 'living right in the centre of the drug culture'.
Of Murray, prosecutor Mr Walters said in September 2010 undercover officers Matt and Rachel were out in touch with him and bought two wraps of heroin.
The next month a police surveillance team saw Murray give a wrap of heroin to a woman with a baby in a pushchair.
When arrested in November he admitted supplying the undercover officers and other people on around 12 different occasions.
Robert Hodginkson, defending, said he supplied the drug to support his own habit and added there was no evidence of him doing so between 2010 and his arrest last year.
But Judge Coates said the evidence indicated Murray was 'something more than a street dealer'.
Next, Warne appeared in the dock with another man, 35-year-old Stephen Hill of Hoskyn Close, who had admitted one charge of supplying heroin and was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years and 200 hours of community service.
Prosecutor Mr Walters said Rachel made several deals with Warne who, when arrested, claimed he only supplied the drugs as a courier on behalf of Andrew Murdoch - who will be sentenced at a later date.
Defending Warne, Sean Logan told the court his client was using up to 12 bags of heroin worth £10 a day at the time but was now clean.
Judge Coates told Warne: "You and Murdoch were in this together in the thick of it, and it’s very difficult to draw a distinction between the two of you."
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