Notorious drugs gang now behind bars

ANTHONY DIPROSE
ANTHONY DIPROSE

A NOTORIOUS Lancaster drugs gang who were jailed for more than 67 years last week are likely to be subject to a proceeds of crime investigation by police.

Jury members at Preston Crown Court heard that children as young as eight had been encouraged to shout the gang’s slogan at police on Lancaster’s Ryelands estate.

Operation Bespoke organised crime gang press briefing.'Some of the weapons found at various addresses

Operation Bespoke organised crime gang press briefing.'Some of the weapons found at various addresses

Ringleader Anthony Diprose, 27, of Roeburn Drive on Grosvenor Park, was jailed for 16 years on Thursday, June 7, after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering. He also pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation.

Judge Michael Byrne read evidence describing how the estate became riddled with graffiti of the gang’s tag (name) “902 RWA – Ryelands with Attitude”.

Other youngsters chanted “**** the law” at officers and said they had been told to chant at police because “902 rules the estate”.

The court was also read a text message sent by Anthony Diprose boasting: “I don’t trust no one except my brothers. All the rest just do as I say and want to be me.”

He enjoyed a lavish lifestyle which included fancy cars, expensive holidays, jewellery and designer clothes. Judge Byrne said: “Life on the estate had become somewhat anti-authoritarian.

“There are lessons to be learned from this case.

“People who live in close proximity to each other should understand the forces of drug-related property and provision cannot be allowed to prevail, and that police and community assistance is available.”

His brother and right-hand-man Jason Diprose, 26, of Austwick Road, Lancaster, was also jailed for 16 years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and fraud by false representation.

A police spokesperson said officers initially carried out a series of raids in 2009 and 2010, acting on intelligence that the gang were involved in the supply and distribution of cocaine and other drugs.

The raids revealed that the gang had access to a variety of weapons, including firearms.

During a 13-week trial the jury heard how the two brothers headed the operation and associates, including family members and friends who helped to mix cocaine with adulterants – compressing the diluted powder using hydraulic presses and redistributing it to street dealers – while also storing drugs and firearms in their homes.

Aidan Higgins, 21, of Dee Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possessing heroin. He was jailed for four years.

Liam Wiper, 24, of Euston Grove, Morecambe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for six years and nine months.

Andrew Gunningham, 30, of Ryelands Road, Lancaster, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for seven years.

Brian Coulton, 31, of Tarnsyke Road, Lancaster, was found guilty at trial of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

He was jailed for five years.

David Threlfall, 28, of Artle Place, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He was jailed for 18 months.

Kenneth Smith, 23, of Acre Court, Mainway, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was found guilty at trial of possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was jailed for four years.

Liam Parkinson, 25, of Norfolk Street, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, possession with intent to supply heroin and possessing a taser. He was jailed for seven years.

All were told they would serve half these sentences in prison and the other half out on licence.

Katie Noon, 25, and Paul Noon, 30, both of Austwick Road, Lancaster, were both found guilty of money laundering at trial and were given a six-month sentence which was suspended for two years and 50 hours of unpaid work.

Rachel Lynch, 42, and Paul Lynch, 45, both of Tarnbrook Road, Lancaster, were found guilty of money laundering at trial and were given a two-year community order, a two-year supervision order and 40 hours of unpaid work.

Supt Andrew Webster, from Lancaster police, said: “A group of criminals who had instilled fear in our communities through their illegal activities are now behind bars, meaning the streets of Lancaster and Morecambe are a safer place.

“While out on their daily patrols, our neighbourhood officers would hear from residents about how they felt that their lives were being been blighted by the two Diprose brothers and their associates.

“Many felt threatened and intimidated by the actions and activities of these individuals.

“It is incredibly important that people continue to provide the police with information so that we can keep them safe and look for ways to prevent organised crime groups from operating in the future.”