Burnley duo face drug supply charges

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A BURNLEY man and woman are accused of being part of an alleged drug smuggling ring, which disguised a Burnley Wood home as a bogus company to receive drugs from China.

The case, which started at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, heard that several people were involved in an elaborate plan to import large quantities of benzocaine into Burnley from China before being ferried to Derbyshire, Middleton and Milton Keynes.

Benzocaine, a local anaesthetic often used by vets and dentists, is also illegally used in its powder form as a cutting agent by drug dealers to dilute cocaine, thus increasing profits.

Mandy Hopkins (23) of Dall Street, Burnley, and Scott Grindley (24) of Hollingreave Road, Burnley, deny assisting in the supply of Class A drugs.

Two men from Milton Keynes, Clifford Hall (31) and Stephen Baylis (31) face similar charges.

Prosecuting barrister Mr Robert Golinski told the jury that each defendant had a different role in the operation.

Hall and Baylis, who lived together in Milton Keynes, ordered the benzocaine from China, which was then imported to addresses in Burnley and Ripley, Derbyshire.

Hopkins’ part was to receive large packages of Benzocaine at her Burnley home, under a bogus company name, while Grindley would transport the packages to an address in Middleton, Greater Manchester, the prosecution alleges.

Mr Golinski said: “The benzocaine arrived in large parcels often described as something else completely. The address in Dall Street was often given bogus company names. They were nothing of the sort.

“More than 150kg. of benzocaine was delivered to Hopkins’ address from November, 2010, to January, 2011. She was also arranging for it to be collected from her house.

“On one occasion, the address in Dall Street was given the name of Chemstar Trading Ltd. The crown says that Hopkins would have known she wasn’t anything to do with Chemstar Trading.

“Common sense dictates that Hall and Baylis knew what they were ordering. They took steps to give it misleading labels and descriptions.”

Mr Golinski told the jury that Grindley’s role was to transport the packages from Burnley to Middleton. He added that evidence from police automatic number plate recognition, video footage and mobile phone records would support the prosecution.

Another Burnley man, Christopher Pounder (26) of Parkinson Street, pleaded guilty to assisting in the supply of Class A drugs before the trial started. Several other people from various parts of the country have also pleaded guilty before the trial.

The trial, scheduled to last three weeks, continues.