Boxer was drug gang ringleader – Gang dealt drugs from childern lunchbox

James Fletcher.
James Fletcher [right].

A boxer who was the ringleader of a gang which dealt drugs in a children’s lunch box has been jailed for nine years.James Fletcher was about to go to the Commonwealth Games when he was shot by a local gangster in Bradford in 2007.  Fletcher, 26, then went on to head a gang which dealt cocaine throughout Yorkshire between January and May 2008.  Ringleader Fletcher, of The Headrow, Leeds City Centre, was helped by training partner Adrian Mitchell to buy and supply the drug, Leeds Cown Court heard.

Mitchell, 33, of Jennyfield Drive, Harrogate, then went on to recruit Dean Haddington, 30, of Knapping Hill, Harrogate, to act as a courier.  Following months of police surveillance, Haddington was caught delivering cocaine in a child’s packed lunch box with the street value of around £60,000.

The gang, who all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, were sentenced to a total of over 22 years.   Mitchell was jailed for eight years and Haddington was jailed for five years and eight months.  Sentencing the trio Judge Marson QC said: “The reality is that each of you became involved in this evil trade for financial gain.
“Each of you no doubt expected and intended to profit to the greater of lesser extent from the misery you were prepared to heap on those addicted to this pernicious drug.”

Mitigating for Fletcher, Jonathan Goldberg QC told the court: “It is no coincidence that Mr Fletcher was shot in June 2007 and it is no surprise this offence began in January 2008.”
He said that the shooting was “life shattering” and that it was a “tragic case”.    Mr Goldberg QC added: “There is no reason to think he will ever revert to this type of crime and he realises that he must be punished today.”    The court heard that Haddington had turned to a life of crime because he was made bankrupt and Mitchell became involved out of a sense of “loyalty” to others.  Speaking after the case ended DCI Jon Hoyle, from West Yorkshire Police, said: “We are happy with the outcome.

“They are an organised crime group who worked throughout the county and further afield.  “We have dismantled this and the sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences.
“Although Fletcher was an amateur boxer he was a drug dealer.  “His removal and the sentence sends a message out that West Yorkshire Police won’t tolerate professional drug dealers.”

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