DRUG dealers travelled nearly 300 miles to “exploit” a middle-aged heroin addict to peddle drugs from her flat in Hove.

Long-term user Avril Glasgow was spared jail yesterday after being targeted by the “professional” operation.

The dealers from Liverpool supplied her with heroin in return for using her Ingram Crescent home to supply Class A drugs last year.

She was sentenced alongside nine others who all pleaded guilty to offences ranging from conspiracy to supply to money laundering, after the operation was busted by police.

Handing her a suspended sentence at Hove Crown Court, Judge Richard Hayward said: “You have had a drug habit for many, many years, which has blighted your life.

“They supplied you at your home and then started to use your home to supply others.“You had an abusive childhood and started abusing drugs from a young age.

“I accept that you are vulnerable and you were exploited by others.”

Kevin Freeman, 35, used the telephone in Rochester prison and at least nine mobile phones to run the show”, communicating mainly through his partner, Lisa McGee, and brother, Karl Freeman, until the latter was beaten up and seriously injured.

Heroin and cocaine were sourced in Liverpool and taken to Hove by Steven Reed, 30, and John Kerwin, 30, who sold them on, working from Glasgow’s house as well as the Smart Sea View hostel in St Catharine’s Terrace, Hove.

They are known to have made 41 trips between Liverpool and Brighton, although Judge Hayward accepted there would have been many more visits.

Profits were taken back to Liverpool and some put into bank accounts belonging to the dealers’ girlfriends. Prosecutors estimate the operation involved up to £500,000 worth of drugs.

Police watched the group for months before arresting Reed and
Kerwin at Glasgow’s home on June 5 last year.

Officers got permission to keep them in custody to wait for them to pass drugs believed to be stashed inside their bodies. Days later the pair confessed to having drugs – a total of 37 grams of nearly 80 per cent pure cocaine, worth an estimated £4,440.

Detective Sergeant Julian Deans, of Sussex Police Organised Crime Investigation Team, who led the investigation, said the convictions would have a “significant impact” on the local trade.

He said officers bided their time watching the ring before making arrests in order to build up evidence of a conspiracy and secure longer

Detective Constable Mark Pinder said Hove was probably chosen because it was known to the Freeman brothers, who had previous convictions for supply in the area.

New power helped police inquiry

DS JULIAN Deans said a power in the Criminal Justice Act was a big help in the investigation.

Reed and Kerwin still had drugs stashed inside their bodies when they were first arrested and charged with drugs offences.

Police applied to magistrates to keep the pair in custody until the drugs had passed.

The pair admitted having the drugs after being told they would face another 14 days in custody.

DS Deans said: “Wherever you hide drugs and whatever you do, we will find you.

“They did everything to hide the drugs including refusing food and drink while in custody but when they were charged they realised it was time to give up.”

Sentences given out

The following pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supplying class A drugs, heroin and cocaine.

Kevin Freeman, 35, of Sparrowhawk Close, Liverpool: Jailed for nine years Karl Freeman, 36, of Ellencliff, Liverpool: Jailed for eight years Lisa McGee, 33, of Cowley Road, Liverpool: Jailed for four years, 11 months Steven Reed, 30, of Woburn Close, Liverpool: Jailed for six years, 11 months John Kerwin, 30, of Clarendon Road, Liverpool: Jailed for six years, 11 months Andrew Clarke, 33, of Bleasdale Road, Liverpool: Jailed for five years, four months The following pleaded guilty to converting criminal goods: Patricia Wood, 49, of Childers Street, Liverpoool (£1,870 paid into bank account): 12-month supervision requirement and must attend women's turnaround project for 20 days.

Sophie Pearson, 32, of Clarendon Road, Liverpool (£15,295 paid into bank account): jailed for nine months suspended for 18 months, 12-month supervision and must attend women’s turnaround project for 20 days.

Jade Owen, 25, of Woburn Close, Liverpool (£12,125 paid into bank account): pleaded guilty to converting criminal goods, jailed for eight months suspended for 18 months, supervision of 12 months and must attend women’s turnaround project for 20 days.

Avril Glasgow, 57, of Ingram Crescent, Hove, pleaded guilty to allowing her premises to be used for the sale of class A drugs: jailed for ten months, suspended for 18 months.