Cocaine drugs gang which operated out of Stansted jailed for 46 years

Top left: Andrew Seaforth, top right: Bradley Stantiford, bottom left: Joanne O'Brien, bottom right:

Top left: Andrew Seaforth, top right: Bradley Stantiford, bottom left: Joanne O'Brien, bottom right: Matthew Hunt - Credit: Archant

A cocaine supply ring which operated out of Stansted saw eight of its members jailed for a total of 46 years at court on Friday (August 19).

The gang, which included a man and woman from Saffron Walden, a man from Stansted and a woman from Little Canfield, were charged after a wide reaching investigation by Hertfordshire Police.

The gang worked out of an address in Windmill Road, Stansted, which was used as a drugs ‘safe house’, where cocaine was stored and prepared for distribution.

More than 1.5kg one and a half kilos of 85 per cent purity cocaine, along with cutting agent, scales and presses used by dealers were found at the property after police executed a warrant.

Officers also swooped on addresses in Cheshunt, Ware, Hoddesdon, Harlow, Hertfordshire and Norfolk as they targeted ringleader Bradley Stantiford and those who worked for him between January and October 2015.

Sentencing the gang on Friday (August 19) at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Patricia Lynch QC said that Stantiford’s distribution network was on a commercial scale and had allowed others to run their own subordinate supply networks. He had access to a source providing high purity cocaine for substantial financial gain.

Stantiford, 40, a fitness trainer from Market Court, Hoddesdon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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Jonathon Chilcott, 26, of High Street, Harlow, who managed the Stansted ‘safe house’, pleaded guilty and was also sentenced to eight years.

Matthew Hunt, 31, who lived at the Windmill Road property in Stansted run by Chilcott, was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of a stun gun, which was found by officers during a warrant search on October 24 last year.

Andrew Seaforth, 41, of Rylstone Way, Saffron Walden, who also had a second address in Ware, was a courier for the gang who ran a network of his own. He pleaded not guilty, but was convicted and jailed for six years.

Joanne O’Brien, 28, of Old Mill Road, Saffron Walden, regularly delivered large amounts of cash to Stantiford as a sub-dealer and often bought cocaine and supplied it. The judge said she had sub-dealers of her own and jailed her for four years.

Mother-of-one Claire Hollis, 29, of Farmer Close, Little Canfield, was the only one not charged with conspiracy.

She was stopped in Stantiford’s BMW with 25 one gram deals of cannabis and 24 wraps of cocaine. The court was told that mobile texts and contact with Stantiford and Chilcott showed that she was “an established dealer”.

However, she escaped immediate custody and was instead was given an 18-month sentence suspended for two years, with a rehabilitation activity requirement and an order that she attend a Thinking Skills programme.

Other gang members included: Scott Webb, 29, of High Street, Harlow, who was jailed for six years, Stephen Till, 28 of Hipkins Place, Broxbourne, jailed for five years, and Louis Croke, 22, of Broomfield Avenue, Broxbourne, also jailed for five years.

Natalie Peirce, 32, of Barleycroft, Harlow, was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years and Claire Godden, 37, of Thorpe Terrace, Nordelph, Norfolk, was given a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Superintendent Dave Wheatley, head of serious and organised crime at Hertfordshire Police, said: “This was a complex investigation into an established organised crime group, who were operating a hierarchal method of leadership and were involved in the trafficking of controlled drugs across the south east of England.

“The group preyed on vulnerable members of society for their own financial gain without care or consideration for the impact or the misery caused by their actions.

“This court result is a positive one and sends a message to those involved in the trafficking of controlled drugs that their actions will draw attention from the police and will not be tolerated.”

All 11 defendants face a hearing next February to confiscate their assets.

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