Drug dealers have sentences reduced by Court of Appeal
THREE leading members of a crime gang which peddled hard drugs across Lincolnshire have won cuts in their prison sentences at the Court Of Appeal.
Stephen John Payne, Philip Mark Cox and Timothy Scott Louth each pleaded guilty at Lincoln Crown Court to conspiracies to supply Class A and Class B drugs.
In May, Payne, of Pear Tree Lane, Fulstow, and Cox, of Jubilee Road, North Somercotes, both 42, were sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Louth, 31, of Boston, was jailed for nine years for a leading but lesser role in the operation.
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But yesterday, in a hearing at the Court Of Appeal in London, Payne and Cox had their sentences cut by 18 months each to nine-and-a-half years, as did Louth, whose sentence was reduced to seven-and-a-half years.
Mr Justice King, sitting with Lord Justice Treacy and Judge Alistair McCreath, said the sentencing judge had punished the trio too sternly for their crimes.
As reported, the three men were among 15 who were trapped in an investigation codenamed Operation Atlanta, run by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit – involving five separate police forces – between 2009 and 2011.
Also caught was Simon Godwin, 40, of Quarry Road, Louth, who was jailed for three years after admitting possessing cocaine with intent to supply.
Lincolnshire Police later confirmed that the bust took £1-million worth of drugs off the streets of Lincolnshire, which included cocaine, heroin, cannabis resin and amphetamines
At Lincoln Crown Court, Judge Michael Heath said that it was a “commercially motivated” trade which brought “widespread misery” to others through organised crime.
All four men were said to be “principal defendants”, with Cox and Payne acting somewhere in the hierarchy between the importers and those who actually dealt the drugs.
Cox used his legitimate fishing lake business, Joy Of Koi, to add a veneer of respectability to his actions, providing an explanation for traffic at his property.
Farmer Payne owned a farm where there were several outbuildings which were ideal for storing drugs. It became an effective distribution centre.
Judge Heath said in court that Grimsby had been one of the main markets used by both men.
Louth, of Boston, had a logistical role in the operation.
But Mr Justice King said all three had personal mitigation. Louth was a talented musician and artist who had done charity work, Cox was a foster carer and Payne had been influenced by more experienced criminals.
The appeals were allowed and the sentences reduced.
Lincolnshire Police, one of the five forces involved in Operation Atlanta, refused to comment on the appeal.