Wisbech family jailed for "destructive" heroin conspiracy
PUBLISHED: 10:10 22 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:10 22 April 2013
A Wisbech family at the centre of a destructive heroin supply chain have been sentenced, along with their accomplices, to a total of more than 60 years in jail.
Eight people were convicted at Norwich Crown Court yesterday for money laundering and drug trafficking offences following a six-week trial and a major police investigation across Norfolk , Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire .
The court was told the conspiracy revolved around the Higginson family, who helped arrange the purchase and sale of drugs, and the transfer of money between East Anglia and the Bradford area.
Judge Stephen Holt said, while there was no clear evidence on the exact total quantities of heroin which were moved, one raid had yielded 3kg of the drug and one defendant’s vehicle was stopped on a journey carrying more than £120,000 in cash. He said: “It cannot be over-emphasised what a trail of destruction distribution of heroin on this scale brings.”
Those sentenced yesterday were:
David Higginson, 67 of Begdale Road , Elm, Wisbech, was sentenced to 12 years after he entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely heroin, and money laundering offences. The judge said he played a “leading role” in the conspiracy.
His wife Denise Higginson, 58, also of Begdale Road , was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to supply heroin. The judge said she played a lesser role but still an “active part”.
Their son Paul Higginson, 38, of Begdale Road , was sentenced to 10 years and eight months in custody following an earlier guilty plea to conspiracy to supply heroin and money laundering offences. The judge said he “had a number of previous convictions you would expect from someone with a heroin habit”.
Daughter Sarah Higginson, 36, of Silt Road , Nordelph, near Downham Market, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply heroin and money laundering offences.
Her partner Paul Ward, 43, of Silt Road , Nordelph, was also sentenced to six-and-a-half years for the supply of heroin and money laundering offences.
Kabir Hussain, 34, of Artillery Street , Heckmondwicke, West Yorkshire was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs, and money laundering offences.
Mohammed Tariq, 47, was sentenced to four years for money laundering offences after police found £127,565 in his car when they stopped him on the motorway on March 7 last year.
Darren Driscoll, 37, of Church Lane , Crowland, Lincolnshire , was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely heroin. The judge said he had an “appalling record of convictions and offences” and that he got involved with the conspiracy after being released from prison on licence, just six weeks before the arrests were made.
A ninth defendant – Megan Parr, nee Morris, 36, of Ellen Crescent , Spalding, Lincolnshire , will be sentenced at a later date.
Judge Stephen Holt said: “It has been said many times, and it never loses its power, that people who are involved in the distribution of Class A drugs like heroin bring ruin and destruction and a great deal of pain to a community. Those who are addicted go out and commit crimes. People who live alone get burgled, and shopkeepers trying to make a living have their businesses raided by heroin addicts.”
In mitigation, William Carter, who represented both David and Paul Higginson said his clients had pleaded guilty to the offences before trial; Charles Snelling, for Denise Higginson, said his client played a lesser role and described her conviction as a “personal tragedy”; Mr Snelling, for Driscoll, said he was involved in the conspiracy for a “limited period”; Gelga King, for Hussain, said he did not play a leading role; Parveen Judge, for Tariq, said he was only found guilty of one count, having been acquitted of another count, and has never spent time in custody before now and was finding it “extremely difficult”; Andrew Shaw, for Sarah Higginson, said hers was a “lesser role” and she was in “grief” at the loss of her family – her mother, father, brother and partner are all in custody as a result of this case; Caroline Allison, for Ward, said whatever his role may have been he was a hard working man who had never spent time in custody.
The arrests were made last July after search warrants were executed by officers from the Eastern Region Asset Recovery Team ( Eastern RART ) which forms part of the Eastern Region Specialist Operation Unit (ERSOU).
Det Insp Liz Fernandes, who led the investigation, said: “This was a complex investigation that required careful planning and execution in terms of the covert activities we held to secure the necessary evidence and make the arrests. Officers worked long and unsociable hours to ensure those involved did not evade justice and reduce the harm caused to our communities. “
“The communities of West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire , Norfolk and Cambridge are safer places as a result of this operation which has caused a major disruption in the supply of Class A drugs in these regions.”