A DRUGS gang leader who controlled a ‘drugs empire’ with a ‘mixture of fear and bluster’ has been locked up for 23 years.
James Flinders, aged 48, led an operation across South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire but was snared by police as members discussed drug deals worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
An eight-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard some of the drugs, including cocaine and amphetamine, were of very high purity.
A massive 10-month surveillance operation saw police find drugs and money buried in Clumber Park.
Flinders also tried to launder cash he made by spending large amounts renovating his luxury property, The Lodge on Lodge Lane, Dinnington - where even the dog kennel was centrally heated.
Sentencing him to 23 years in prison, Judge Robert Moore said: “You’ve been undoubtedly the most intelligent man in the dock for this trial and it’s quite clear you used that intelligence between July 2010 and May 2011.
“You constructed and ran a locally managed drugs empire which you controlled with a mixture of fear and bluster.”
Flinders, who has a long term partner and a young child, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, perverting the course of justice, and converting criminal property.
A woman wept in the public gallery and fled as he was sent down.
The court heard he was a ‘hard working man in his own way’.
Judge Moore praised police for the way evidence was painstakingly put together as ‘a lot of public money had been saved’.
Speaking after the hearing, Det Con Ron Day told The Star: “It’s been a long term covert investigation and the result is extremely satisfying. It has been a huge effort on our part and the CPS.
“It sends a message to South Yorkshire that we will tackle drug problems and get sentences.
“Flinders shot himself in the foot by installing CCTV in his house which captured all the people who visited, which greatly assisted in prosecution.”
The gang included some of Flinders’ relatives and close friends.
Brother-in-law David Bacon - a businessman who the court heard was ‘the money behind Flinders’ purchases’ - was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply drugs as well as converting criminal property.
Bacon, 43, of Swinston Hill Road, Dinnington, was captured on surveillance with Flinders arranging the purchase of a kilo of cocaine worth £54,000.
Lee Tongue, 42, of Burns Road, Dinnington, who acted as an ‘intermediary’ in procuring drugs, was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy to supply.
Roy Tomlinson, 37, of Victoria Street, Dinnington, was jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to supply cannabis and amphetamine. He was acquitted of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
James Green, of Carlton-in-Lindrick, was sentenced to 20 months for conspiracy to supply Class C drugs.
Earlier in the trial Flinders’ half-brother Simon Dilkes, from Worksop, was given 11 years for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to supply amphetamine.
Matthew White, 30, of Windsor Place, Worksop, was given six years for conspiracy to supply Class B drugs - and will reappear in court for reconsideration of part of his sentence. Damien Fletcher, 28, of Wordsworth Avenue, Dinnington, is also to be sentenced next week for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Two men - Brian Schofield, 37, of Northgate, Tickhill, Doncaster, and Adam Stoneham, 27, of Gateford Road, Worksop - were acquitted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine.