London

Drug dealers sentenced after residents took action

East London 'drug dealers only' parking space Image copyright Penny Creed
Image caption Residents had commissioned artists to create "drug dealers only" parking spaces to highlight the crime problem in the area

Drug dealers who were exposed when disgruntled residents put up fake street signs have been jailed.

The east London residents commissioned artists to create "drug dealers only" parking spaces and "crack pickup" points last September, sparking a police investigation.

A total of 23 men have now been prosecuted over the drugs trade.

Three were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday and four on Friday.

Judge Gerard Pounder told the court on Friday: "All this came to light because of residents in Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

"They were finding life very difficult. They had a number of people coming into their area who were taking drugs, leaving needles, threatening other people including those taking their children to school."

'Dealing near children'

Jonathan Shepherd, from the CPS, said on Monday: "Dealing drugs such as heroin can have devastating consequences for vulnerable people and communities.

"These defendants showed little consideration for those around them - often openly dealing drugs in the day in front of young children and encouraging aggressive drug users to loiter in the area.

"The different phone lines represented a co-ordinated effort between various drugs operations to work together to deal dangerous drugs, in effect blighting the local community to such an extent that they felt they had to take action."

Image caption Another fake sign read: "Needle free zone"

The Weavers Community Action Group, which was created to tackle the problem of drug dealing in the area, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "The immediate response we saw from the police and council following our effective street art campaign was very impressive."

Image copyright Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption Kevin Tighe (left), Kenneth Gratton and Craig Furlong (right) were sentenced on Monday

Monday saw the sentencing of Dilraj Miah, 29, from Spitalfields, who was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs; as well as Kevin Tighe, 49, from Bethnal Green, and Kenneth Gratton, 56, from Bow, who were both sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs; and Craig Furlong, 31, from Bethnal Green, who had his sentencing deferred for six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Image copyright Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption Rukon Ahmed (left) was sentenced on Friday and Dilraj Miah on Monday
Image copyright Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption Julian Haynes (left), Luke Gratton and Brendan Vickers (right) were sentenced on Friday

On Friday, Julian Haynes, 33, and Luke Gratton, 30, both from Bethnal Green, were jailed for four years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Brendan Vickers, 26, also from Bethnal Green, and Rukon Ahmed, 29, from Forest Gate, were both sentenced to three years in prison, having both admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and two counts of possessing a controlled Class A drug with intent.

More on this story