Cocaine dealer jailed for seven years

POLICE last night welcomed a seven-year jail sentence given to a "significant" cocaine dealer in west Suffolk – and pledged to continue to target drugs offenders.

POLICE last night welcomed a seven-year jail sentence given to a "significant" cocaine dealer in west Suffolk – and pledged to continue to target drugs offenders.

Officers who searched addresses in the Haverhill and Cambridge areas used by Robert Riley discovered drugs worth nearly £40,000 – including £30,000 of cocaine hidden in a loft, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

They also found £63,490 cash in a safe and a further £2,790 cash on Riley when he was arrested in January last year after a police surveillance operation, said prosecutor Martin Evans.

Riley, 44, of Burton Hill, Withersfield, near Haverhill, admitted possessing cannabis resin and cocaine with intent to supply and four offences of supplying cocaine.

Jailing him yesterday, Recorder Guy Ayers described Riley as a "significant" commercial dealer in cocaine.

Following the case, Detective Inspector Nigel Gregory (retd), who led the investigation, said: "It's been a complex and difficult case and I am delighted it has been resolved and very happy at the message it sends out."

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Also in the dock yesterday, alongside Riley, was his former girlfriend Justine O'Reilly, 40, also of Burton Hill, Withersfield.

She was convicted in October of three offences of laundering £90,000 of Riley's drug money and was jailed for 12 months. She had denied the charges.

Sentencing O'Reilly, who has two children by Riley, Recorder Ayers said money given to her by Riley had been used to pay a deposited on her home and she had used £20,000 of his cash to arrange a bankers' draft so that he could buy a £42,000 BMW car.

The safe containing £63,000 had also been kept at the home of one of her relatives.

In addition to jailing the pair, the judge made a confiscation order of £103,977 in respect of Riley and £110,766 in respect of O'Reilly. He imposed a three-year jail sentence in default of payments.

Outlining the case, Mr Evans said Riley was arrested last January in a lay-by in the Haverhill area by police officers who had been keeping him under surveillance.

Earlier the same evening Riley had been seen supplying drugs on two separate occasions and was arrested as he was about to supply cocaine worth more than £2,000 to another customer.

Officers went to a house in Wulfstan Way, Cambridge, which was occupied by a woman Riley was seeing at the same time as O'Reilly, and found £30,000 worth of cocaine and £2,000 worth of cannabis resin hidden under roof insulation in the loft.

Cocaine worth £3,800 and cannabis resin worth £600 were found in a bedroom and small quantities of drugs were found at Riley's home in Withersfield and at another address used by him at Forest Glade, Haverhill.

During interviews with police he accepted he had been involved in supplying drugs between April 2003 and January 2004.

Anthony Korda, for Riley, said his client had a long-term problem with alcohol and drugs and had developed a cocaine habit.

Lindsay Cox, for O'Reilly, said she had no previous convictions and was a devoted mother to her two children.

He said her relationship with Riley was over and she had been assessed as being at a low risk of re-offending.

He said that she did not have £110,000 to pay the confiscation order and would have to sell her home.

Det Insp Gregory said it had been a long investigation which followed a number of arrests in January 2004, with Riley "the principal offender".

His colleague, Detective Inspector Dave Rutterford, said: "We hope this will send out a clear message that those involved in dealing drugs in out county will not be tolerated.

"Together with the Crown Prosecution Service we will use all the powers and legislation to deal with offenders appropriately.

"With new legislation that enables us to recover cash and property gained from criminal activity, drug dealers not only face imprisonment but they also stand to lose any financial gains from the crimes they commit."

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