• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Former Welsh Guardsman jailed for part in Richard Gray cocaine conspiracy

Byoxfordnewspaper

Oct 6, 2022

A former Welsh Guardsman became the middleman for a cocaine dealer after chalking-up gambling debts.

Jamie Shepherd-Smith, 33, spent the best part of a decade in the elite Welsh Guards regiment, a battalion of foot soldiers who also have responsibility for guarding the monarch. He completed tours of Afghanistan and Iraq before retiring from the army with post-traumatic stress.

Oxford Crown Court heard that he had first become involved in Richard Gray’s massive cocaine-shifting operation in 2020 and, over the next 14 months, was responsible for handling cash and an estimated eight kilos of the class A drug.

Prosecutor Michael Roques said on Thursday: “The prosecution would submit this defendant has a significant role. He is not only a courier, he is involved in the running of the business to the extent he acts as a middleman between customers and Richard Gray.”

The court heard Shepherd-Smith had made trips to the north of England to collect kilos-worth of cocaine at a time.

When Richard Gray took a delivery of 12kgs of cocaine stashed in a gas cylinder in May 2021, he was said to have boasted to Shepherd-Smith – whom he called ‘cuz’ – of the drug’s quality. “This is fire, cuz. Fire, bruv,” he said.

Shepherd-Smith received the use of an Audi car and was paid in return for his part in the conspiracy, the court heard.

Having been unable to claim hardship payments or furlough during the early part of the pandemic, the money he earned helped him clear his debts although ‘then other debts arose’.

His barrister, Peter Briegel, reminded the judge that his client was the first in the conspiracy to admit his guilt, paving the way for others – including top man Gray.

Since his remand into custody last year, he had been awarded trusted prisoner status and was training to be a counsellor to other inmates.

A series of character references, including from his former captain in the Welsh Guards, spoke highly of him. The defendant had written a letter to the judge speaking of his shame at finding himself in the dock.

Shepherd-Smith, of Bramling Cross, Abingdon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs. He had no previous convictions.

Thames Valley Police

Jailing him for seven years and two months, Judge Michael Gledhill KC said: “Gray is a serious and substantial dealer in cocaine, as I reflected in the sentence that I imposed upon him.

“He is thoroughly dishonest, motivated entirely by money and prepared to bring anybody into his illegal activities by any means whatsoever in order to assist him.

“You have known Richard Gray for a long time. You are well aware of what a dishonest, unscrupulous man he is and you kept away from him as much as you could.

“But, unfortunately, you fell under his thrall.”

He added: “For eight years you served in His Majesty’s forces with distinction and it is a great pity that you ever left the Army.”

Five co-conspirators have so far been locked up for a total of 66 years. Richard Gray received 21 years.

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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