Tourist who claimed to be visiting aunt turned out to be drug dealer

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A teenaged dealer who claimed he was in Devon to visit his auntie was caught out when he could not remember her name

Jack Cavanagh was traced by police after they arrested an addict who was acting as his runner on a recreation ground near the seafront at Exmouth.

He claimed he had travelled from Liverpool to the seaside to visit his aunt but police saw through his ruse and arrested him.

They recovered £720 worth of heroin which he had hidden on him and messages on his phone showed he had been dealing on behalf of a County Lines gang.

His runner Mark Gillham was spotted by police openly selling drugs near the seafront at 6pm on a day in August 2018 and followed back to Camperdown Terrace, where Cavanagh was staying in a top floor flat.


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Cavanagh, now aged 21, of Miller Court, Prescott, Liverpool, admitted possession of heroin with intent to supply. Gillham, aged 39, of no fixed address, Exmouth, admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin.

They were both jailed for two years, suspended for two years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court. Cavanagh was ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activities and 140 hours unpaid work and Gillham to do 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

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He told them he was suspending the sentences because of the difficult conditions in jail as a result of the Covid pandemic.

He said: “Gillham, you were a front-line worker for the scheme while you, Cavanagh, hail from Liverpool and had come some distance with a significant quantity of street-sale ready deals inside you.”

Deni Matthews, prosecuting, said police spotted Gillham selling to known drug users on the evening of August 17, 2018, in a recreation ground and from a car near the seafront.

He then went on foot to Camperdown Terrace, where he was arrested as he entered a building and was found with six wraps.

Residents told police he had been coming and going from a top floor flat where they found Cavanagh with £545 takings.

Mr Matthews said: “His phone was seized and he was questioned and said he was on his way to see his auntie.

“He was asked her name and was unable to give further details.”

He later produced a package containing 6.29 grams of heroin which had be divided into 36 £20 wraps ready for sale.

Julian Nutter, for Cavanagh, said he was bullied into coming to Devon because he ran up a debt for cannabis with a gang who threatened him and his family.

He has stayed out of trouble for the two years and three months it has taken to bring the case to court and is now working and has reduced his dependence on cannabis.

William Parkhill, for Gillham, said he is working with the drug services and getting help for his long-standing problem of homelessness.

There are positive reports from probation and the housing officers who have been helping him.

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