North Shields woman sent to jail for her part in drugs conspiracy

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court

A North Shields woman, who was part of a major drugs gang, has been jailed for more than two years.

Sentences handed down to April Hunter, 22, and fellow gang member Leanne Marriner, 34, formerly from Sunderland, follow a total of 54 years imposed on other members of the gang, including 14 years each for brothers Asa and Aidan Dobbing.

Marriner - a cousin of the Dobbings - received consignments of high-purity cocaine for cutting and onward sale on the street, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Hunter helped Marriner sell the drugs, prosecutor Nick Dry told the court.

“The Dobbing brothers were at the head of what was a major conspiracy,” said Mr Dry.

“It was based around their Aspect Garage business in Sunderland, which was used to launder the proceeds.

“A courier, Jamie Malloy who is awaiting sentence, made regular trips to the south to collect kilo consignments of cocaine, with cash going the other way.

“Marriner and Hunter were arrested as they collected 110g and 85g packets of cocaine from Malloy.

“In their car they had a dealer’s list and a shared dirty drugs phone. This indicated their dealing operation was thriving and profitable.”

Marriner, once of Avonmouth Road, Farringdon, Sunderland, and Hunter, of Little Bedford Street, North Shields, admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs between January and April, 2014.

Nick Lane, for Marriner, said in mitigation: “Ms Marriner turned to drug dealing to fund her own habit.

“She made some financial gain, but not a great deal.

“It is true to say she is a cousin of the Dobbings, but she was not aware of the full extent of their operation, and had no significant involvement in running it.

“She has turned her life around since this offending, and has been free of drugs since 2014.

“Ms Marriner is now in a settled relationship, and they have established a bistro in Sunderland based on a healthy living theme.”

Nigel Edwards, for Hunter, said she had been ‘under the influence’ of Marriner.

“One can see the age difference,” added Mr Edwards. “Ms Hunter was very immature for her age, and was barely 18 when she became involved in the conspiracy.

“She has since cleaned her life up considerably, and is pursuing a promising career as an amateur boxer.”

Judge Howard Crowson jailed Marriner for five years and four months, and jailed Hunter for two years and eight months.

The judge said: “You, Leanne Marriner, were an established outlet, and while I accept you did not have a great deal of contact with those at the head of the organisation, I think you knew more about what was going on than you were prepared to admit.

“April Hunter was further down the scale, but her joint possession of the drugs phone and dealer’s list shows she was still a part of a thriving enterprise.”

A hearing later this year on a date to be fixed will determine if Marriner, Hunter, the Dobbings, and the other defendants has any assets that can be seized as the proceeds of crime.