Drugs trial update: Phone calls to alleged gang members were ‘innocent chit-chat’

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A Nottinghamshire man alleged to have been involved with a major drugs supply gang in Grantham has told a jury all his phone calls were all “innocent chit-chat.”

James Straw, 50, told a jury at Lincoln Crown Court that he rang friends Paul Hull and Johnathan Ferry, who both lived in Grantham, on a daily basis.

It is alleged a gang headed up by Mr Ferry was involved with other organised crime groups from Nottinghamshire and Manchester in the supply of illicit drugs into Grantham.

But giving evidence Mr Straw insisted his phonecalls to Mr Ferry, Mr Hull and Retford-based Tyrone Sly were all innocent.

Mr Straw told the jury: “I rang Mr Sly, Mr Hull and Mr Ferry on a daily basis. It is just good chit-chat between friends. It is not a crime to ring friends, it was nothing about drugs.”

Asked by prosecutor Matthew Lowe if none of that contact was for anything other than entirely innocent purposes, Mr Straw replied: “Correct.”

Mr Straw explained that one visit by Mr Hull to the Retford area was for the purpose of selling a mobility scooter to one of his friends. “It cost £200, a blue one,” Mr Straw explained. “His mother wanted one.”

When asked by Mr Lowe if one of his calls to Mr Hull had anything to do with heroin, Mr Straw answered: “Nothing to do with heroin, none whatsoever.”

Asked if another call was to discuss a consignment of heroin picked up by Mr Hull, Mr Straw replied: “He didn’t pick up any heroin from me.”

Straw, of Petersmith Drive, New Ollerton, is one of five men on trial accused of involvement in the supply of drugs. Stuart Frazier, 54, of Princess Drive, Grantham; Jamie Darby, 39, of Princess Drive, Grantham; Anthony Morton, 27, of Tamar Court, Grantham; and Adam Gill, 29 , of South Parade, Grantham, all deny charges of conspiracy to supply drugs between 1 January and 23 October 2014.

The jury has been told that eight men and one woman have admitted charges of conspiracy to supply drugs between the same dates. They are Jonathan Paul Ferry, 46, of Larch Close, Grantham; Paul Hull, 47, of Grantley Street, Grantham; Adam Higgs, 24, of Shaw Road, Grantham; Ashley Toulson, 27, of Edward Street, Grantham; Tyrone Sly, 45, of Bye Path Road, Retford; Ryan Anderson, 30, of Walmer Street, Gorton, Manchester; Martin Cooper,30, formerly of Grantham; Francesca Moynihan ,22, of Hawthorn Drive, Salford; and Luke Smith, 30, of Goulden Street, Salford.