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Judge jails Torquay career criminal for 12 years

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

THE ringleader behind one of Torbay's biggest drugs and weapons gang has been jailed for 12 years.

Drug baron David Morrison, 40, of St Lukes Road South, Torquay, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court last Thursday for his part in masterminding an operation which brought hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cocaine into the south west and generated so much cash one henchman hid £85,980 in a punch-bag.

Morrison (pictured) along with five other men, who have already been jailed, were involved in moving cocaine and 'sinister' stun guns disguised as mobile phones, the court heard. He was caught on a police tape bragging about how much money he was making from his cocaine dealing operation.

He lived a jet set lifestyle in which he posed in sports cars while on holiday in Turkey and sent money to Thailand to buy a holiday home.

Morrison brought cocaine from Liverpool to Devon in one kilogram consignments he called boxes and was overheard complaining he was only making £5,000 a time on his deals.

He was so casual about money he never used the word thousand, so when he spoke about £5 he actually meant £5,000.

When police found and seized the £86,000 in the punch-bag he was recorded saying he shouldn't complain because they had not touched him for seven years.

He was snared by a nine-month surveillance operation in which police watched his gang trading in lethal high voltage stun guns and bugged his home in Torbay.

The conspiracy was brought to a halt when officers tracked Morrison and two of his lieutenants as they went by train and taxi to Crewe and Liverpool to pick up a half kilo consignment of cocaine which was destined to be sold on the streets of Torbay for £45,000.

He was branded as a career criminal after a judge heard how he set up his drug business in Devon after serving a six year, nine month sentence in Brazil for trying to smuggle cocaine out of Rio airport.

In addition to his drug dealing, he was also running a counterfeiting racket in which he sold fake designer T-shirts, handbags and jewellery for at least five times what he paid for them in Turkey and Thailand.

Morrison admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, possession of 58 stun guns, and money laundering.

He was jailed for 12 years by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court and told his assets may be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The judge told him: "By the time of your arrest, you had become a career criminal. You have a serious previous conviction for drug trafficking from Brazil to Britain when you were caught with a kilo of cocaine at Rio airport.

"When you finished that sentence you came back to Britain and by 2011 you had added dealing in class A drugs into your criminal portfolio.

"You have admitted being the head of a conspiracy and you played a leading role. There is no direct evidence of the supply of five kilograms of cocaine, but the final seizure involved half a kilo valued at £12,500.

"The evidence shows your ability to take orders for half a kilo at a time and deliver them. You put the infrastructure in place to facilitate the dealing in drugs. The £86,000 seized may not have come only from drugs, but shows the extent of your criminal involvement.

"The possession of the 58 stun guns, which were disguised as mobile phones, is an aggravating feature. Whenever weapons are possessed in the course of drug dealing consecutive sentences should be imposed.

"Violence is part of the drug business, whether to enforce debts of enforce compliance and obedience. These were passed on to others, but would certainly have been used to enforce some crime or other, so it is a very serious offence."

Paul Grumbar, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing a surveillance operation was set up in 2011 after members of the gang made £15,000 cash payments into banks and building societies in Torbay.

A bug was installed in Morrison's flat which recorded him talking about boxes, meaning one kilo consignments of cocaine. At one point he is heard talking about waiting for a five and a half kilo importation.

David Evans, defending, said Morrison was making more money out of counterfeit goods than drugs and was being controlled by larger drug dealers from Liverpool.

He had to pay a half share of everything he made to others and ended up owing them money when the punch-bag cash was seized by police.