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Messagers: The defendant had regular ‘encrypted’ chats with fellow drug dealers.
A CARLISLE drug dealer discussed his illegal trade in kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine and cannabis on an encrypted messaging service with other criminals, a court heard.
An international investigation revealed how 28-year-old Francis Pattinson regularly discussed his drug dealing operation with fellow criminals, referring to his trading in large amounts of Class A drugs and transportation problems caused by lockdown.
The defendant, of Briar Bank, Belah, admitted four allegations of being concerned in the supply of illegal drugs – cocaine, heroin, cannabis and codeine.
He also admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply
Charles Brown, prosecuting, said the defendant’s offending came to light thanks to an impressive and wide-ranging investigation led by the National Crime Agency into the use by criminals of the Europe based EncroChat messaging service, which had allowed them to communicate “with impunity.”
Investigators finally infiltrated the messages exchanged by organised crime groups and other criminals who were using the system to communicate secretly. When they examined messages from Pattinson, investigators found numerous references to illicit drugs being transported.
Referring to the quantities of drugs which police believe the defendant was involved in supplying, Mr Brown said detectives estimate he was implicated in the supply of:
* 6 kilos of cocaine
* 2.5 kilos of heroin
* 20 kilos of cannabis
* And 300 bottles of liquid codeine.
When police raided the defendant’s Carlisle home in September, 2020, they found more evidence of his drugs operation.
Officers seized 106g of 80 per cent pure cocaine, as well as 20 kilos of a cutting agent.
The cocaine was worth around £4,000. Evidence showed Pattinson was engaged in running his own drugs supply business between March and June of 2020.
Mr Brown said: “An examination of the messages sent [by the defendant] showed that he was involved in the supply of significant quantities – running into several kilograms quantities of controlled drugs.”
In one encrypted conversation between Pattinson and another drugs criminal, he referred to 150 kilos of a drug being “stuck in Holland.” Mr Brown added: “There were discussions about the difficulties of delivering during lockdown and the effect that this had on prices.”
Brendan Burke, defending, disputed the amount of drugs supply attributed to Pattinson, suggesting it was not as much as claimed by the police. The barrister said: “It’s not a conspiracy; these are offences of being concerned in the supply of drugs.” Pattinson’s messages also included a reference to him dealing in only ounces of heroin, said Mr Burke.
The barrister said an NHS letter reported that Pattinson had an IQ of only 68.
The son of a heroin addict, who was later cared for by a foster parent, the defendant began his life disadvantaged and was ill-equipped to make sensible decisions, added Mr Burke.
As he passed sentence, Judge Nicholas Barker said Pattinson was heavily engaged in the supply of significant quantities of drugs.
The judge told him: “You were responsible for the supply of significant quantities of cocaine, heroin ad cannabis in the Carlisle area.”
That supply operation was wholesale in its nature, and the defendant helped other drug dealers run their operations, said Judge Barker. He accepted that Pattinson was remorseful and that his foster mother spoke well of him, seeing him as a person “with promise”.
But the judge added: “In this business there was a total lack of any regard for the wellbeing of those who were going to use those drugs. It has, at its heart, a deeply cynical nature, which is the exploitation of those who are unfortunate enough to be addicted to those drugs to engineer a significant profit for the likes of you.”
Pattinson was jailed for eight years and four months. He was also made the subject of a serious crime prevention order for five years. This entails him notifying police of his financial dealings when required to.
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