• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Drug dealer’s ‘lieutenants’ jailed for role in ‘Rico’ line

Byoxfordnewspaper

Jul 29, 2022

A fresh-faced drug dealer’s ‘lieutenants’ were snared after police uncovered messages found on their phones.

Dad-of-four Stuart Walker, 41, had texts on his pink Samsung linking him to Reece Harrison’s ‘Rico’ drugs line, while co-defendant Donna Harris, 39, was linked to the operation through messages on her silver iPhone.

Harrison, then 21, was sent down for more than six-and-a-half years last May for running the line in Oxford and the south of the county in 2020 and early 2021.

READ MORE: County lines dealer gets jail time

And on Thursday, Walker and Harris received 28 months and 27 months respectively for their parts in the drug dealing operation.

Jailing the pair, Judge Ian Pringle QC said: “You were important lieutenants in the supply of these drugs through that county line.

“I’ve said it many times before over the last 10 years and I’ll say it again: those who involve themselves in selling drugs on the street in this county are likely to lose their liberty.”

Earlier, he said that in selling heroin and crack cocaine to users, the Rico line was ‘perpetuating their addiction and causing misery’.

Reece Harrison, who was jailed in May 2021 Picture: TVP

The crown court heard that Harrison was the lead man in the organisation. It was only through their investigation of his activities that detectives followed the evidence trail to Walker and Harris.

Two phones belonging to the defendants were seized in 2020. Analysis by police specialists showed the phones were in contact with one another, the Rico drugs line and direct with users.

Both Walker and Harris denied being involved in supplying class A drugs when they were first interviewed by the police. They claimed the phones had only recently come into their possession and the devices were loaned to others.

However, Walker, of Grove Street, East Challow, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court last year to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin. Harris, of Claypit Lane, East Challow, had initially been due to have a trial, but pleaded guilty in March to being concerned in supplying the two drugs.

Lawyers for the pair asked the judge to suspend any custodial sentence he was going to give their clients.

Dad-of-four Walker had sought support from addiction charity Turning Point and was now clean of opiates, the court heard. He had 15 previous convictions for 24 offences but none for dealing drugs.

His co-defendant, a carer with no previous convictions, was described as having had a ‘harsh learning experience’ from her first time before the courts.

Judge Pringle accepted Harris was of previous good character, but said: “You knew full well what you were doing when you involved yourself in this operation.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward