A DRUG dealer from Uttoxeter – snared after a police stake-out of a hotel car park – has been jailed.
Undercover cops watched as Mark Groombridge and Hethan Hall completed a deal for £1,400-worth of cocaine, Stafford crown court heard.
Each of them drove off in their respective cars, sparking separate high speed police chases around Burton.
Groombridge was rounded up after patrol cars blocked him in on the main Tutbury Road, despite his attempts to reverse back towards oncoming traffic.
Hugh O’Brien-Quinn, prosecuting, said Groombridge got out of the vehicle and threw something over a hedge.
The package was retrieved and it contained one ounce of cocaine with a street value of £1,400.
Hall was pursued down the A38 at speeds of up to 100mph, leaving the carriageway at Branston Road.
He then drove through Tatenhall at 60mph, where police lost sight of the defendant’s Subaru.
It was found abandoned about half an hour later and Hall was arrested the following evening at his home in Walton on Trent.
Hall, aged 23, of The Pastures, Rosliston Road, Walton on Trent and Groombridge, aged 28, of Balance Street, Uttoxeter each admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs and dangerous driving. Hall, who also admitted driving while disqualified was jailed for a total of four years and Groombridge for 46 months.
Judge Mark Eades told them: “You are both well practised criminals, this crime is an agreement between you to supply drugs. Those who involve themselves in police chases go to prison immediately.”
Mr O’Brien-Quinn said police had been keeping watch on the Beacon Hotel car park on 19 July last year. Hall was on his mobile phone and Groombridge drew up in an Audi A5 a few minutes later. Hall got in to the Audi and left a few minutes later. Each of them drove off in their respective vehicles.
Groombridge’s Audi got stuck behind a lorry on the Tutbury Road and police were able to overtake it. Groombridge reversed back down the road, forcing other vehicles out of the way, but was blocked in by another patrol car.
A mobile phone was seized from him which contained drug-dealing text messages sent round-robin to his ‘customers’. The texts included “the shop’s open”, “Bank Holiday sales are on” and “get some rocket fuel”.
“Groombridge was running a business selling cocaine to a number of people. He’s been regularly selling or offering cocaine to a number of people over a number of months.
“Hall was a dealer to whom Groombridge would go to get his stock. In some ways he is at a higher level,” said Mr O’Brien-Quinn.
Mr Robin Howat, defending, said Groombridge’s father had committed suicide in Dovegate prison just before prison. His son was on the same wing at the time, but was given bail on compassionate grounds.
“It has brought home to him in the starkest way possible where his life of crime could take him. he knows he has got to get help for himself for his drug problem.
“Hall was supplying him and he would carry on down the chain as a street dealer.”
Jacqui Callan, for Hall, told the judge: “He is somebody who acts on impulse. He knows he is going to custody today.”