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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation, keynote presentations and workshops for corporate organisations on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, cybercrime and DoS issues, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk.

He operated at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. (PR WEEK TOP 150) Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and featured in launch edition of the PRWeek Black Book. Investigative Journalist and Broadcaster.

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Thursday, 14 December 2017

DRONE GANG OF ELEVEN JAILED FOR USING DRONE UAV's TO DROP PROHIBITED ITEMS INTO 9 UK PRISONS


 
 
A gang have today (13 December) been jailed for over 37 years after they were found guilty of using drones to import prohibited items into nine prisons across the country.

The group of eleven men and women, aged between 19 and 51, were made up of serving prisoners in various jails and their accomplices on the outside.

Between July 2015 and May 2017, the gang trafficked prohibited items including psychoactive substances, crack cocaine, cannabis, heroin, mobile phones, sim cards, Freeview boxes, hacksaw blades and screwdrivers into HMP Hewell, Stoke Heath, Featherstone, Birmingham, Oakwood, Lindholme, Stocken, Liverpool and Risley.

The gang wrapped the items together in packages, sometimes concealing them in drink bottles, before throwing them into the prison grounds or flying them in using drones.

The drones would either deposit the packages in the prison grounds to be picked up by inmates, or they were flown to a specific cell window for an inmate to pull the package in using a broom handle with a hook attached to it.

They used mobile phones to contact each other when drop offs were made.

A number of the packages were intercepted by officers and a police investigation was launched.

Using data from mobile phones and drones, the prosecution was able to identify the defendants as the perpetrators of the offences.

The recovered drugs were found to have an estimated value in prison of up to £370,000. However, there were multiple drone flights that were not intercepted so the true value of the drugs alone, based on an average delivery, is estimated to be up to £1.2 million.

At Birmingham Crown Court, 10 out of the 11 defendants pleaded guilty and one was found guilty after a trial.

Eran Cutliffe, a Senior Crown Prosecutor with the West Midlands CPS Complex Casework Unit said:   “This was a highly organised gang who worked in an extremely co-ordinated manner in order to import prohibited items into prisons.

“They used various techniques, including drones, to smuggle contraband such as drugs, tools and mobile phones. The financial value of these goods was far greater in prison than in the outside world.

“The gang members sought to profit from the misery caused by prison drug use and they must now face the consequences of their actions.”

The defendants were sentenced to the following
 
Francis Ward (dob 22/07/1971), 46, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited items into prison and one count of conspiracy to supply psychoactive substances. He has been jailed for a total of two years and four months imprisonment
 
John Hickinbottom (dob 19/12/1966), 51, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, one count of conspiracy to throw an article into a prison and one count of conspiracy to supply a psychoactive substance. He has been jailed for a total of four years and eight months imprisonment

John Quinn (dob 6/8/1981), 36, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, one count of conspiracy to throw an article into a prison and one count of conspiracy to supply a psychoactive substance. He has been jailed for a total of four years and eight months imprisonment

Craig Hickinbottom (dob 4/7/1982), 37, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, one count of conspiracy to throw an article into a prison and one count of conspiracy to supply a psychoactive substance. He has been jailed for a total of seven years two months imprisonment

Mervyn Foster (dob 2/10/1979), 38, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, one count of conspiracy to throw an article into a prison and one count of conspiracy to supply a psychoactive substance. He has been jailed for a total of six years and eight months imprisonment

Sanjay Patel (dob 1/9/1979), 38, pleaded guilty to possessing an electronic communication device whilst in custody. He has been jailed for a total of five years and three months imprisonment

Yvonne Hay (dob 10/2/1975), 41, was found guilty following a trial by jury of two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison and one count of conspiracy to supply a psychoactive substance. She has been jailed for a total of two years and four months imprisonment

Ashley Rollinson (dob 9/9/1995), 23, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison. He has been jailed for a total of 11 months

Lisa Hodgetts (dob 12/6/1984), 33, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. She has been handed a 16 month suspended prison sentence

Terry Leach (dob 2/5/1998), 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison. He has been handed a two year suspended prison sentence

Artaf Hussain (dob 5/8/1986), 31, pleaded guilty to one count of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug. A warrant was issued for his arrest.


TRIBNOTE: None of the above is thought to have qualified for a commercial drone operators licence, which would have involved a CAA medical investigation including:

 (225) Psychiatric

During assessment of the applicant’s history, the doctor should make a general enquiry about mental health which may include mood, sleep and alcohol use.  The doctor should observe the applicant during the process of the examination and assess the mental state of the applicant under the broad headings of appearance/ speech/ mood/ thinking/ perception/ cognition/ insight.  The doctor should also be looking out for any signs of alcohol or drug misuse.



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