An 80-year-old man found guilty of playing a ‘willing and supporting role’ in a large-scale heroin supply operation has been spared jail.
Terence Killeya, from Oswaldtwistle, acted as a ‘driver or facilitator assisting others’ in the supply of the class A drug in the Blackburn area.
The pensioner, of Broadfield Terrace, denied being concerned in the supply of both heroin and crack cocaine in August 2016 during a trial at Preston Crown Court.
However he was found guilty by the jury after a seven-week trial of the heroin charge and not guilty to the supply of crack cocaine.
Toni Walker, from Church, who the court heard was a heroin street dealer who was driven around by Killeya ‘on some significant occasions’, was also spared jail after pleading guilty to supplying the drug.
Walker, 30, of Canal Street, was given two years in prison suspended for two years.
The pair were part of 23 members of a gang who have been sentenced to a total of more than 90 years in prison.
They were all arrested as part of Operation Jasper, a covert investigation into the trafficking and supply of class A drugs.
Heading the ‘Sharky’ network was 46-year-old Manier (Kabbir) Hussain from Liverpool, who would arrange the transportation of controlled Class A drugs from Liverpool into Blackburn.
Hussain, of Lance Close, was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine and not guilty of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition of importation of goods. He was jailed for 16 years.
Police began to investigate the ‘666 Sharky’ network in late 2015 after a known associate, Liaquat Ali, 46, of Norfolk Close, Clayton-le-Moors, was stopped and arrested at Manchester Airport in February 2016, having travelled from Pakistan in possession of 24 kilos of heroin.
He was subsequently jailed for eight years after appearing at Manchester Crown Court.
A large scale covert investigation followed during which officers executed a number of warrants in Blackburn and Liverpool.
Items seized included class A drugs, namely cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin.
After the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Vaughton said: “Operation Jasper is one of the largest drug supply investigations in the area for many years.
“The ‘Sharky’ network blighted Audley Range and surrounding areas of Blackburn with the supply of heroin and crack cocaine.
“I am pleased with the sentences so far, which should send a clear message that we will not tolerate drug dealing in our communities.
“The operation came about as a result of concerns reported by members of the public, and I hope these sentences will also provide reassurance to the people in this area that we will act on any information that is passed to us to make local communities safer.
“We will continue to do everything within our power to identify those involved in drug dealing and bring them before the courts. I urge the community to work with us and continue to contact us with any concerns or information about drug dealing."
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “This successful operation demonstrated that the police have the resources, skills and determination to bring criminal gangs such as this to justice.
"The crucial work carried out by Lancashire officers in keeping drugs off our streets achieves real results like this that make our communities safer, with this operation resulting in dangerous drug dealers being removed from our streets.
"Our Lancashire officers' hard work and determination is key in keeping our streets safe and reassuring the public that no stone is left unturned in stopping criminal gangs."