A NORTH Pembrokeshire woman would make trips to get drugs hidden in a hedge adjoining her property, and from a blue Jewson’s bag in her front garden, as part of a UK-wide drug running operation, Swansea Crown Court heard.
Leonie James, 33, admitted being involved in conspiracy to supply cannabis as part of the Pembrokeshire- Dorset drugs ring busted earlier this year during Operation Rookley.
The court heard on Friday (Dec 16) that James’ home in Precelly Crescent, Goodwick was put under police surveillance between July last year and January 2022.
Officers witnessed drugs being delivered by couriers to the home that James shared with ringleader Shaun Lucas. The court heard that James was present at the home ‘on many occasions when such supplies were taking place’.
The drugs were then stashed outside the house, in the front garden and in a hedge adjoining a neighbouring property.
James was seen making frequent trips from the house to these stashes with these trips coinciding with visitors coming to the house to buy drugs.
The court was then given details of occasions in September last year when James had either gone to the hedge of the Jewson’s bag within minutes of a visitor arriving at the house.
“The defendant was taking drugs from the stash and being concerned in the supply to other persons,” said Jim Davies, prosecuting, saying that she had acted as Lucas’ ‘assistant’.
James had also travelled to Merseyside with Lucas in February of this year on what was described as a ‘drugs related trip’.
Mr Davies stated that the known amount of cannabis involved was in the region of 40 kilogrammes.
Police had also seized £26,000 and £15,000 from two separate couriers involved in the operation.
James was arrested on March 14 this year and gave a no comment interview before pleading not guilty to conspiracy to supply both cannabis and cocaine.
On November 24 this year James changed her plea on the cannabis charge to guilty. The crown then offered no evidence on the cocaine charge and a formal not guilty verdict was recorded.
In James’ defence it was said that she had already spent nearly five months in custody and two months with an electronic curfew.
A probation report said that there was a significant prospect of rehabilitation and a low prospect of reoffending. She had one previous conviction for driving while under the influence of cannabis and an unrelated caution going back to 2012.
“She has her own difficulties and health problems that she is battling with,” said her barrister, adding that she was a mum of four young children.
He maintained that she had a ‘lesser role and a relatively limited function under the direction of those running the operation’ and that there was a ‘degree of naivety on her part’.
“It wouldn’t be right to say that there was no influence from those above in the chain, she was in a relationship with one of them,” he said.
Judge Her Honour Catherine Richards KC said that she would not send James back to prison as ‘it would be unjust on you and those who depend on you’.
“You supported your partner in his enterprise,” she told James. “There is no evidence of an operational or controlling role. You helped supply customers and allowed drugs to be stored on your premises and handled cash when needed.
“You have spent a considerable time in prison already and time on curfew.”
Judge Richards handed down a 20-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months with a 25 day rehabilitation requirement.