MEMBERS of a suspected drugs gang sang along to Ed Sheeran as they listened from the dock to police surveillance tapes of them allegedly discussing hiring a hitman.

The men shuffled and joined in with the song as the court heard the police recordings also picked up the Sheeran song Sing.

Officers picked up the chart topping hit as they listened to suspects discussing drug deals and conspiring to murder their underworld bosses, the court heard.

The gang hired a hitman rather than pay them back after a police surveillance operation netted £1.5m, the jury was told.

The gang were under pressure to pay back money police seized in cash and Class A drugs to their organised crime superiors. When the pressure increased, the gang decided to eliminate their debts by murdering their creditors, a court heard.

Five men involved in the drugs gang conspired to kill two men described in court as their suppliers.

Dale Sullivan, prosecuting, told a jury at Hove Trial Centre that Leo Alan Ellis, 23, from Hastings, Jason Caswell, 41, from London, Kenny Kelly, 36, from London, Steven Kelly and Anthony Hearn, 44, conspired to kill Kevin Wise and another man known only as M.

The gang were under pressure from Wise and M to pay back illegal cash and the cost of unsold drugs seized by detectives from Sussex police as part of Operation Lancehead. The five deny two charges of conspiracy to murder. The trial continues.