Three more drug dealers who were part of £1.3 million cocaine conspiracy jailed

Thomas O'Brien
Thomas O'Brien

Three more members of an organised criminal gang that trafficked £1.3 million worth of cocaine from Northampton to Hampshire have been sentenced to a total of more than nine years in prison.

Thomas O’Brien, Daniel Shrubb and Steven Payne all worked as drugs couriers and helped to sell on an estimated 28kg of high purity cocaine to another crime group in Southampton.

Steven Payne

Steven Payne

Shrubb, aged 33, of Henry Bird Way, Northampton, has received a prison sentence of three years and four months, while O’Brien, aged 30, of Bugbrooke Road, Kislingbury, was jailed for three years.

Payne, aged 45, of Weedon Road, Nether Heyford, has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

The sentencings on Friday followed the jailing of nine other men involved in the conspiracy on Thursday for a total of 104 years.

The longest sentence was handed to Joseph O’Neill, aged 36, of Jacques Road, Burton Latimer, who was jailed for 20 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs following a nine-week trial at Leicester Crown Court in October and November.

Daniel Shrubb

Daniel Shrubb

The leaders of the organised crime in Southampton which had formed links with another O’Neill’s gang have also been sentence.

Darryl Sims and Daniel Taylor headed up the group based in Southampton and Taylor was in direct contact with O’Neill, often contacting him by text message.

Assisting Sims and Taylor to collect and deliver the drugs was Sims’ father, Mark, who met up with members of the Northants gang and also allowed his house to be used to store the drugs.

Mark Sims was heard by police officers to boast on one occasion that he could “supply kilos of it” an inference to the cocaine being supplied by his group.

A network of couriers was also used by both the Hampshire and Northamptonshire groups to transport the cocaine on a 220-mile round trip between the two counties.

One of the Southampton couriers, Paul Hatcher, made the journey at least 43 times.

He was arrested in February 2011 after returning from one of the trips. Officers searching his car found a quantity of cocaine and two mobile phones, one of which clearly linked him to Sims and Taylor.

Hampshire Police had been investigating the activities of Sims and Taylor’s group when colleagues in Northamptonshire linked their investigation of O’Neill’s group and an inquiry that was underway in Cambridgeshire.

The combined investigation was passed to the East Midlands Special Operations Unit and named Operation Vanguard. The operation resulted in the arrest of 40 people and the execution of 50 search warrants.

After their arrest, Darryl Sims, Daniel Taylor, Mark Sims and Paul Hatcher all pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

They were sentenced at Leicester Crown Court on Friday.

Darryl Sims, 30, of The Gardens, Bishop Waltham, was sent to prison for 12 years and nine months and Taylor, also 30, of McNaughton Road, Southampton, was jailed for 12 years.

Mark Sims, aged 50, of St Catherines Road, Southampton, was sentenced to eight years in prison and 33-year-old Hatcher, of Abercrombie Gardens, Southampton, to four years and ten months.