Drug dealers froze as cops raided Sutton shop

Police activity on King Street, Sutton.
Police activity on King Street, Sutton.

The moment a protein shop in Sutton was raided by the police has been recalled in court by a dealer at the heart of a major drugs operation.

Dad Daniel Robinson (30), of Paling Crescent, Sutton, was in the Protein Masters shop on King Street with friend Craig Donnelly (24) on 27th July last year.

They had just ‘bulked up’ four 1kg bucketloads of the illegal stimulant, amphetamine, also known as speed or whizz, which was ready to go on the open market, when they heard “a loud bang” and police shouting: “Stay where you are!”

“We froze, looked at each other and panicked,” Robinson, formerly of South Normanton, told the Nottingham Crown Court trial. “We thought every minute was going to be our last minute. We knew we had to get rid of what was there.

“We took two buckets to the kitchen sink and two to the toilet area. I turned the taps on at full blast in the kitchen , so the amphetamine would disappear down the plughole.”

Robinson said he also flushed down the sink caffeine that had been used to ‘bulk up’ the amphetamine into 12kg.

Mobile phones were also hidden in the roof space of the shop, in a bid to prevent police tracing their movements, conversations and text-messages.

Both Robinson and Craig Donnelly, of Peel Street, Sutton, plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply the class B drug, but deny charges of producing amphetamine and supplying cocaine.

The prosecution allege that the Protein Masters shop was a front for a multi-million pound drug-dealing operation that spread across the north of England.

The shop was owned by Donnelly’s older brother, Anthony Donnelly (31), of Southwell Road West, Mansfield, and was used to store amphetamine, the jury was told.

Anthony Donnelly was on holiday in Spain at the time of the raid but is also charged with producing and supplying amphetamine, which he denies.

The court heard the dealing operation was carried out by a “sophisticated, organised group” based in the South Normanton, Sutton and Mansfield areas and led by Ben Mullins (33), of Market Street, South Normanton.

Mullins, a former racehorse owner and described in court as an habitual gambler, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to produce and supply amphetamine and to supplying cocaine.

Robinson said he bought drugs from Mullins each month. He described himself as “a small-time amphetamine-dealer -- something I am not proud of”.

Under cross-examination by his defence barrister, Matthew Stanbury, Robinson was taken through his phone records from the day of the raid in July through to November last year.

They included dozens of calls and texts to and from both Mullins and Craig Donnelly. He dismissed most of them as “general chit-chat”, with Mullins often ringing to pass on racing tips.

However, he admitted that, after one call from Mullins in October, they agreed to drive up to Middlesbrough and drop off some caffeine for him at a health-food shop there called Gby.UK, on Linthorp Road. He assumed the caffeine would be used “to cut amphetamine”.

Robinson said they were “spooked” by the sight of police cars in laybys along the route. So, t wo weeks later, when Mullins made a similar request, they decided to decline.

“We had had a bit of a fright at Protein Masters,” he told the court. But he confessed that, at the end of the month, “greed got the better of us because we hadn’t got much money” and they still agreed to buy 9oz of amphetamine from Mullins for his personal dealing.

The court heard it was agreed that the second journey to Middlesbrough would be made instead by a friend of Robinson and Craig Donnelly, Michael Lawrence.

However, Lawrence and his girlfriend, Catherine Harpham, were arrested when police saw another man, Paul Critchlow, drop a black holdall through the window of their car near Hull.

Robinson told the court he was shocked to hear of the arrest while nursing a hangover after a drunken night out.

Lawrence (24) and Harpham (24), of Victoria Street, Sutton, face charges of intending to supply cocaine and cannabis. Lawrence admits the charges, Harpham denies them.

For the current trial, Critchlow is also in the dock, alongside three other men, Charles Corke, Peter Scott and Richard Tryner (45), of High Street, South Normanton. They deny all charges against them.

Two other men, Andrew Brimble (48), of Staff Drive, Tibshelf, and Richie Fido (29), of no fixed address, admit their involvement in the conspiracy. Brimble pleads guilty to supplying amphetamine, while Fido pleads guilty to producing and supplying amphetamine.

The trial continues.