Geordie crime gang who ‘ruled Dawlish’ jailed for 105 years

An organised crime kingpin and his gang of drug-pushing enforcers dubbed ‘The Geordies’ have been jailed for more than 105 years, bringing an end to a £1 million cocaine empire.  

James Lee Brooks – known as ‘Geordie Lee’ – bragged that ‘cash is king’ and boasted he was ‘king’ of the south Devon town Dawlish, where he and his mob flooded the streets with vast amounts of Class A and B drugs.

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, with one video showing two thugs dishing out a brutal beating to a debtor.  

Organised crime kingpin James Brooks was jailed for 20 years

Organised crime kingpin James Brooks was jailed for 20 years

Ruthless enforcer John White. Brooks's half-brother and key laka 'Johnboy', was jailed for nine years.

Ruthless enforcer John White. Brooks's half-brother and key laka 'Johnboy', was jailed for nine years.

Cocaine empire: An organised crime kingpin James Brooks (left) and his gang of drug-pushing enforcers dubbed ‘The Geordies’ (his enforcer John White is pictured right) have been jailed for more than 105 years, bringing an end to a £1 million cocaine empire

Weapons haul: The gang exerted influence and control within Dawlish and Teignmouth and used violence and coercive tactics to maintain a criminal empire valued at £1million

Weapons haul: The gang exerted influence and control within Dawlish and Teignmouth and used violence and coercive tactics to maintain a criminal empire valued at £1million

Weapons haul: The gang exerted influence and control within Dawlish and Teignmouth and used violence and coercive tactics to maintain a criminal empire valued at £1million

Evidence shown during the trial showed John White and Ross Morton dishing out a brutal beating to one debtor. Footage of the assault was found on James Brooks’s mobile phone

Evidence shown during the trial showed John White and Ross Morton dishing out a brutal beating to one debtor. Footage of the assault was found on James Brooks’s mobile phone

Evidence shown during the trial showed John White and Ross Morton dishing out a brutal beating to one debtor. Footage of the assault was found on James Brooks’s mobile phone 

On Tuesday, Judge Michael Longman sentenced the gang for a litany of Class A and B drugs offences, jailing the 13 men for more than 100 years in total. 

Nicknamed locally as ‘The Geordies’, the core of group was in fact made up of individuals originally from Sunderland. 

Several of its members were also convicted of sexual offences against women, five of which were for multiple rapes.  

Two of its members were also convicted of conspiracy to supply heroin. Five of the gang have been jailed for multiple rapes. 

The group used serious violence to enforce debt – with some individuals owing as much as £50,000. 

Their crimes shocked the Regency resort town, which is famous for its scenic railway running along the coast.  

Brooks, aged 41, of Dawlish, is now beginning a 25-year prison sentence for 20 drugs and sex offences.

These included conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and 13 counts of aiding and abetting rape.

Brooks’s half-brother and key lieutenant John White, aka ‘Johnboy’, was jailed for nine years.

White, aged 35, of Chudleigh, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

Ross Morton was found guilty of eight counts of rape and further charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis. He also admitted a count of coercive and controlling behaviour.

Ross Morton was found guilty of eight counts of rape and further charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis

Ross Morton was found guilty of eight counts of rape and further charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis

Nazrul Islam (right), 36, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, two counts of rape, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 11 years

Nazrul Islam (right), 36, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, two counts of rape, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 11 years

Ross Morton (left) was found guilty of eight counts of rape and further charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis. Nazrul Islam (right), 36, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, two counts of rape, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 11 years

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, Bristol Crown Court was told

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, Bristol Crown Court was told

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, Bristol Crown Court was told

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, Bristol Crown Court was told

The gang ruthlessly wielded control over the area and used violence, sexual violence and coercive tactics to maintain a strangle hold on the criminal operation, Bristol Crown Court was told

Morton, aged 32, of Sunderland, was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Nazrul Islam, 36, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, two counts of rape, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 11 years.

He also admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and a further charge of possession of ammunition without a licence. 

The gang’s offences occurred between 2018 and 2019. Police arrested the majority of the group on 27 March last year.

The sentencing follows a four-month trial which concluded on 28 January.

Lewis Longhorn, aged 24, of Exmouth, was fully acquitted by the jury.

'Faggy': Rowntree, dubbed Faggy, aged 35, of Dawlish, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis and two further counts of making threats to kill

'Faggy': Rowntree, dubbed Faggy, aged 35, of Dawlish, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis and two further counts of making threats to kill

Archbold, aged 22, of Dawlish, and Turner, aged 41, of Teignmouth, were both convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and were jailed for six and seven years respectively

Archbold, aged 22, of Dawlish, and Turner, aged 41, of Teignmouth, were both convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and were jailed for six and seven years respectively

Rowntree (left), aged 35, of Dawlish, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis and two further counts of making threats to kill. Archbold (right), aged 22, was jailed for six years respectively

An organised crime gang dubbed 'The Geordies' - who brought misery to communities in South Devon - have been jailed for a combined total of 105 years

An organised crime gang dubbed 'The Geordies' - who brought misery to communities in South Devon - have been jailed for a combined total of 105 years

An organised crime gang dubbed ‘The Geordies’ – who brought misery to communities in South Devon – have been jailed for a combined total of 105 years

Case Officer, Detective Constable James Brice, said: ‘This complex investigation involved a group of individuals who have caused misery to many in the Dawlish and other South Devon areas.

‘By instilling fear in a small community over a number of years, people were frightened to come forward and provide evidence.

‘The police therefore used a wide range of tactics and evidential sources to unravel a complex drugs supply network.

‘I want to personally thank those individuals who assisted this investigation. ‘I hope that the various communities and individuals affected by the criminality caused by this group feel that some justice has been done’.

Other key members of the group included John Rowntree, Keiron Archbold, Gavin Brooks and Martin Turner.

Rowntree, aged 35, of Dawlish, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis and two further counts of making threats to kill. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Gavin Brooks

Gavin Brooks

Martin Turner

Martin Turner

Gavin Brooks (left), aged 26, of Tyne and Wear, the cousin of James Brooks, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin. He was sentenced to two years in prison

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Archbold, aged 22, of Dawlish, and Turner, aged 41, of Teignmouth, were both convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and were jailed for six and seven years respectively.

Gavin Brooks, aged 26, of Tyne and Wear, the cousin of James Brooks, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

The court heard the group supplied Class A and B drugs to others in Dawlish and Teignmouth.

Members of the jury were told Marvin Grant and Lewis Williams, from Liverpool, were involved in four drugs runs to Dawlish.

Grant coordinated the delivery of drugs, while Williams delivered them to Devon.

James Trott

James Trott

John Jackson

John Jackson

James Trott (left), aged 37, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of rape and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. John Jackson right), aged 30, of Dawlish, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and assault inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was jailed for over two years

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Photo released by Devon and Cornwall police after a lengthy investigation into a gang in Devon

Police surveillance captured an exchange of money between Williams and Keiron Archbold in the car park at Dawlish Warren railway station.

Both Grant and Williams admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply. Grant, aged 33, was jailed for five years.

Williams, aged 20, was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

‘The group dished out or threatened violence on those who did not pay or crossed them,’ added Det Con Brice.

Evidence shown during the trial showed John White and Ross Morton dishing out a brutal beating to one debtor. Footage of the assault was found on James Brooks’s mobile phone.

Stephen Green, aged 38, of South Devon, was convicted of four counts of rape and was jailed for four years

Stephen Green, aged 38, of South Devon, was convicted of four counts of rape and was jailed for four years

Stephen Green, aged 38, of South Devon, was convicted of four counts of rape and was jailed for four years

The recovery of money owed was enforced by threats of violence. Text messages recovered by police included one in which James Brooks contacted one debtor with a threat to ‘open him up’.

The trial heard how Nazrul Islam arranged for two members of the gang to attend the address of one man over a drugs debt. A vicious assault took place which resulted in the victim suffering facial injuries and bruised ribs.

Islam was arrested in May 2017, and again in March 2019, when, on both occasions, he was found in possession of significant quantities of Class A drugs.

The DNA of John Rowntree, known as ‘Faggy’, was recovered from the knot of a bag found in a hedge in Dawlish by a dog walker. It contained around £4,000-worth of cocaine and heroin.

Examination of phones seized from both James Brooks and Keiron Archbold revealed both had viewed a report in the local media of the seizure by police.

Following the arrest of a number of gang members in March 2019, John Rowntree contacted and threatened to kill a member of the public who had shared and commented on a Facebook post on the matter.

John Jackson, aged 30, of Dawlish, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and assault inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was jailed for two years and one month.

The gang used its influence and control to sexually exploit three women.

Stephen Green, aged 38, of South Devon, was convicted of four counts of rape and was jailed for four years.

Members of the jury were told Marvin Grant and Lewis Williams, from Liverpool, were involved in four drugs runs to Dawlish

Members of the jury were told Marvin Grant and Lewis Williams, from Liverpool, were involved in four drugs runs to Dawlish

Members of the jury were told Marvin Grant and Lewis Williams, from Liverpool, were involved in four drugs runs to Dawlish

James Trott, aged 37, of Teignmouth, was found guilty of rape and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

One of the rape victims said in a statement read to the court: ‘James Brooks and his associates are, in my opinion, all evil people. Monsters even.

‘They do very bad things to people. They ruin people’s lives.

‘They are involved in drugs, with which come all the wicked, violent and hateful things that surround it.

‘They rely on violence to put fear into people. This is what they did to me. There was never a choice.’

A community impact statement compiled by Devon and Cornwall Police and presented to the judge detailed how, following the arrests,a drug-proofing strategic breakfast was held in Dawlish.

It featured some 45 community leaders.

A doctor told officers that many people had mentioned to him how the atmosphere in the town has changed for the better, and Dawlish now feels cleaner and safer.

The statement also detailed how education leaders have hailed the ‘noticeable impact’ the gang’s incarceration has had on young people – some of whom had become involved on the periphery of the group.

They are now engaging with ongoing support and have returned to school full-time.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wilden, head of the Serious and Organised Crime Team with Devon and Cornwall Police, said: ‘The guilty verdicts and significant custodial sentences in this case will be extremely welcome to the victims and the townspeople of Dawlish.

‘For too long, residents have had to live with the wide-ranging criminality, antisocial behaviour and general unpleasant atmosphere brought to the area by this group of criminals.

‘The grip it had on certain aspects of town life was disproportionate and needed to be robustly addressed.

‘Its members exploited vulnerable people, motivated by their nefarious criminality.

‘Today’s sentencing ends this group’s chapter; it has been dismantled by the police and prosecution team.

‘The lengthy and appropriate custodial sentences serve to highlight the severity and breadth of their offending.

‘The prosecution has also applied for Serious Crime Prevention Orders for many of those convicted, which will come into force upon their release in the future – further protecting the victims and the area of Dawlish.

The gang used its influence and control to sexually exploit three women

The gang used its influence and control to sexually exploit three women

The gang used its influence and control to sexually exploit three women

‘This long-running investigation and protracted trial has been a considerable challenge for all concerned, in-particular the Serious and Organised Crime Branch, Crown Prosecution Service and other officers and staff across the force.

‘All have worked tirelessly and skilfully to bring those responsible for the myriad of offences to justice.

‘This was an unusual and deeply unpleasant case and the outcome is testament to the tenacity and hard work of all involved.

‘I would like to personally praise the inquiry team led in this case by Senior investigating officer (SIO) DCI Reid, deputy SIO Senior Crime Investigator Glanville, and Case Officer DC Brice.

‘In addition, I would like to recognise the Senior Crown Prosecutor and Crown Prosecution Service for their highly-skilled work and resilience in the face of numerous challenges throughout the investigation and trial.

‘But most significantly I want to highlight the bravery of the victims and witnesses in coming forward and standing up to these criminal bullies and particularly loathsome gang – this can in no way be over-estimated.

‘I have every admiration for them and we wish with all sincerity that in time they can move on with their lives, safe in the knowledge justice has been done.

‘Organised crime can have terrible effects upon individuals and communities and Devon and Cornwall Police will do whatever we can to tackle it and its effects.

‘Although we live in a generally very safe place with low crime levels, this can make it a seemingly attractive proposition for organised criminals from out of our area.

‘Devon and Cornwall are, however, far from a safe-haven for these criminals – as this and many other recent cases have demonstrated.

‘These sentences send the message the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will target offenders with determination and all tactics lawfully open to us.’

Rachael Scott, Senior District Crown Prosecutor and Head of the CPS South West Complex Casework and RASSO Units, said:

‘The sentencing today of 13 defendants marks the end of a complex and lengthy prosecution involving a criminal gang who used fear and violence to run their illegal operation.

‘I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of the women who supported the police investigation and exposed the inner workings of the gang. They were callously exploited by the gang and I hope the sentences imposed today go some way to providing them with a sense that justice has been done.

‘As a result of their courage, and the commitment of the police and prosecution team, the town of Dawlish in South Devon is a far safer place.

‘CPS will continue to work with our police colleagues and local communities to disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs who choose the South West to ply their illegal and harmful trade’.

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