A MAN and a woman who became embroiled in a drugs conspiracy when they were ‘cuckooed’ by dealers have avoided jail sentences.

Natalie Elliott, 35, and Richard Hall, 36, were spared time behind bars after pleading guilty to several counts of being an occupier or person knowingly permitting or suffering a supply of a controlled drug.

The pair let dealing happen from their house in return for free drugs ‘to keep them quiet’, known as cuckooing. 

Preston’s Sessions House heard that on April 13 2020, police had attended an address in Marsden Street in Accrington.

In the property were Hall and Elliott, and she admitted to police that the property was being used for the supply of class A drugs.

She told the officer she wanted to leave and they were both put in contact with community safeguarding teams.

A few weeks later on May 4, police visited an address on Carter Street in Accrington after receiving information about suspected drugs dealing from a house.

When they arrived they were invited in by Richard Hall’s brother, Michael Hall — who is due to be sentenced at a later date for his involvement in these incidents and the wider Operation Sark investigation.

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Richard Hall was also in the property and the officer noticed people coming and going at the back door, before skulking away when they saw a police officer was present. 

Prosecuting, Peter Wilson said: “Permission was granted to search the property and a number of items were recovered including a set of weighing scales, mobile phones, wraps containing suspected drugs from the bedroom, wraps from a tub under the sofa, another white tub filled with wraps of suspected drugs, a green and black handled knife, an axe, £170 in cash, a few more tubs containing further class A drugs, a knotted bag of class A drugs from the table and more from on top of the TV.

“The total amount of cocaine recovered was 29.23g, and there were 481 packages of heroin totalling 43.21g.

“The estimated street value was £4,985.”

The court heard that a couple of weeks later on May 31, another officer returned to the first address on Marsden Street, where only Richard Hall was present.
Hall had his leg in plaster at this time and gave the officer permission to search the premises.
Three wraps of class A drugs were found with Hall directing the officer to two tubs under the sofa which contained class A drugs and cash amounting to £760.70.

Mr Wilson continued: “There were 60 wraps found at Marsden Street - 3.86g if heroin and 11 wraps of cocaine amounting to 0.55g, all worth around £355.”

Bob Elias defending Richard Hall said that both his client and Elliott had been victims of cuckooing.

He said: “They were cuckooed, meaning the selling of drugs could happen from their homes. They were both drug users and were given drugs to keep them quiet while dealing was going on in the properties.

“He had his leg broken as someone had mistaken him for his brother, Michael.

“This couple were involved because of coercion and intimidation, and co-operated with the police in every instance.

“They were not dealing, they were cuckooed, but it’s an unfortunate aspect that the addicts themselves become involved in the dealing due to this cuckooing. 

“He was mainly given drugs while the dealing went on around him, mostly by his own brother.

“He is drug free now and wants to move forward with his life.”

Mitigating for Elliott, Temitayo Dasaolu said her client had admitted she’d given permission for her premises to be used and had reported it to the police but was also feeding her own habit.

She said: “She did try to leave the address and was no part of the dealing and is now in a stable part of her life.”

Elliott, formerly of Bramwell House, Blackburn, was given a 12 month community order, 20 days rehabilitation activity and 40 hours unpaid work. Richard Hall was handed a nine month sentence suspended for 12 months with 70 hours of unpaid work and 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement.