‘Family men’ turned drug traffickers caught with huge cocaine haul

Two "family men" turned drug traffickers were caught with a huge haul of cocaine after leaving Merseyside to drive to Wales.

Mark Dobbin and Paul Taylor drove from Kirkby to South Wales with four kilos of Class A drugs hidden behind a seat in the van they had hired.

Officers investigating the drug find were then led to a farm which was used to store, cut and package the cocaine before being supplied.

According to Wales Online, Cardiff Crown Court heard that the pair were stopped by police on January 22, this year.

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Dobbin and Taylor were described to the court as "family men" who acted out of character, seemingly motivated by the prospect of earning easy money by acting as couriers.

Tony Trigg, prosecuting, said on the evening of January 22 this year police stopped a van in Peterston-Super-Ely in the Vale of Glamorgan.

At the wheel of the hire vehicle was Taylor while beside him in the passenger seat was Dobbin, in whose name it had been rented the previous week.

The court heard the Vauxhall Combi had made the return journey from south Wales to Merseyside on the day in question, and had been picked up by automatic number plate recognition cameras in Kirkby that lunchtime.

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Four kilos of cocaine found in a Slazenger bag, hidden behind a seat in Mark Dobbin and Paul Taylor's hire van

The van was searched, and behind the passenger seat were four 1kg packages of cocaine.

The drug was a very high purity, ranging between 77 and 81 per cent, and the prosecutor said would have had a value of some £400,000 when packaged into individual street deals.

Mr Trigg said police also found two BQ Aquarius phones, a type of mobile popular with criminal gangs because of their high levels of encryption and security, while a search of Taylor's home address uncovered a "tick list" of numbers.

The police investigation then led to a farm near Pontypridd where Taylor had a lock-up container – he had told the owner, an acquaintance of his, he was storing tools in the unit.

The prosecutor said inside the container were scales, bags, and traces of cocaine and the cutting agent benzocaine, a local anaesthetic commonly used to bulk out cocaine when the drug is being prepared for onward supply.

Mark Dobbin, 52, of Dan Caerlan, Llantrisant, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply after being caught trafficking four kilos of cocaine from Merseyside to Wales
Paul Taylor, 51, of Deere Road, Llantwit Fardre, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply after being caught trafficking four kilos of cocaine from Merseyside to Wales

He said police had concluded the unit was a "central and vital location" in a drug supply operation, and had been used to store, cut, and repackage cocaine.

Taylor, aged 51, of Deere Road, Llantwit Fardre, and 52-year-old Dobbin, of Dan Caerlan, Llantrisant, had both previously pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply when they appeared in the dock via videolink for sentencing.

The court heard Taylor has four previous convictions for seven offences, and Dobbin has three previous convictions for four offences but neither has been in court for 15 years or more.

Kevin Seal, defending Taylor, said there was no evidence his client had been part of any wider conspiracy, and that he fell to be sentenced on the basis of the one day's offending when he had been "no more than a courier" driving the van.

Mixing equipment found at a farm in South Wales

He said the father of two student daughters "knows he has let his family down in all regards".

Adam Sharp, for Dobbin, said his client had co-operated fully with police, and there was nothing to suggest he had any greater involvement than that of courier.

Both barristers said the offence was completely out of character for their clients.

Judge David Morgan told the pair that he did not believe for one moment that they were the organisers of the drugs operation, and that "people far more criminally sophisticated than you" were responsible.

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He said he had read letters submitted to the court on behalf of the defendants from people who knew them, and the authors expressed "amazement, surprise, and consternation" at what the men had got involved in.

The judge said it seems the motivation behind the offending was financial gain.

Giving the defendants a one-third discount for their guilty pleas, the judge sentenced them each to six years in prison.

The men will spend up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

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