Heroin dealers ‘peddling misery to many people’
CRIMINALS involved in the heroin trade must expect the full force of the law to be thrown at them because the class A drug ruins lives, tears families apart and fuels crime in Jersey, a senior detective has told the JEP.
After career criminal Alan James Smitton was jailed for a landmark 17 years for his role in two major drug conspiracies involving cannabis and heroin worth more than £1 million, the reasons why the Crown pushed for such a lengthy sentence are being reported in detail.
Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, prosecuting, moved for the Royal Court’s Superior Number to jail Smitton, who has an ‘appalling’ criminal record, for 20 years. The Royal Court’s Superior Number chose to impose a sentence of 17 years.
The jail term eclipses that given to Merseyside gangster Curtis Warren in 2009 for his role in a £1 million cannabis conspiracy and only just falls short of sentences handed to psychopathic murderer Paul Greenan, who killed nurse Tracy Burns in 2004 (20 years), and axe-murderer Darren McCormick (life with a minimum of 25 years).
Earlier this month, five men who took a woman to a rural car park late at night and gang raped her while she was highly intoxicated were jailed for ten years each. Two of them were aged 18.
Many Islanders’ opinions on cannabis are well documented, but Detective Sergeant Jim McGranahan, who led the States police covert operation that snared Smitton, said heroin, especially, was a drug that tore the Island apart.
DS McGranahan said: ‘If you’re going to do this, and get involved with this sort of crime, we will do our best to bring you to justice. You are peddling misery to so many people on the Island. It is ruining families. People will say what they say about cannabis, but heroin, that is just the worst.
‘There are professional drug dealers who will work with cannabis but they will just not touch heroin, it’s horrible. The dealing of heroin is peddling misery.’
He added: ‘Offences like this have a massive impact on the Island – it fuels crime. If an addict doesn’t have enough money to buy a 50-bag [0.05g of heroin worth £50 on the street] what do they do? They shoplift, or nick a bike or steal from a home to fund their need. They are addicts and will do everything they can to get that £50 bag.
‘People will say we should focus more on sex offences, and the force works incredibly hard to tackle those offences, but we could focus more on them if our time was not taken up dealing with other offences – thefts and the guy who has nicked the bike to get the cash to fuel their drug need.’
Smitton was jailed alongside two other men: heroin addicts John Banach, who was jailed 10.5 years, and Simon Reeves, who was jailed for seven and a half years.
Five other criminals were also jailed for their roles, alongside Smitton, in a conspiracy to import and supply more than £600,000 of cannabis on the Island. Neil Heskin was jailed for seven years and six months, John O’Connor for seven years and six months, Norman Templeton-Brown for five years and nine months, David Arrowsmith for four years and six months and Paul Howes for three years and two months.
All eight of the drug criminals were snared as part of a covert States police operation codenamed Operation Raven .
In Jersey conspiracy offences involving class A drugs carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, for class B drugs it is 14 years. In addressing the court, Crown Advocate Maletroit explained that because Smitton had been a key player in both conspiracies he was to be punished for both, but by imposing consecutive – or back to back – sentences, he would end up being imprisoned for more than 30 years.
Equally, the court heard, if concurrent sentences – which run at the same time – were to be passed, it would not penalise Smitton for his role in the cannabis job.
Instead, the Crown said Smitton should be punished for the heroin case and that his role in the cannabis job should be viewed as an aggravating factor. That, together with the fact he had pleaded not guilty, had an appalling criminal record including 16 convictions for 38 offences including violence and drugs, and had shown little or no remorse, increased the length of his sentence.
In 1996, Smitton was jailed in France for drug offences, he was jailed in Jersey in 2001 for six years for further drug crimes involving heroin and was then jailed again in 2006, alongside Heskin and O’Connor, for a conspiracy to import £400,000 of cannabis on a boat.