Callum Zide: Mother and daughter with roles in Sheffield cocaine kingpin's drug empire sentenced

The members of Callum Zide's 'substantial' drug enterprise have been handed prison sentences totalling over 25 years.

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The ‘banker’ of a Sheffield cocaine kingpin has been sentenced, along with a mother-and-daughter involved with one of his county drug lines. 

Callum Zide’s commercial-scale drugs operation resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds of Class A drugs being distributed across South Yorkshire between November 2019 and his arrest in July 2021.

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Judge Sarah Wright sent Zide to begin a 17-and-a-half year prison sentence last week (September 1, 2023) for his substantial, and leading, role in the operation. 

Sheffield Crown Court heard how Zide was brought down after the encrypted EncroChat platform he used to source quantities of tens of thousands of pounds of crack cocaine and heroin ‘every few days’ was compromised, leading to a South Yorkshire Police (SYP) surveillance operation and his ultimate downfall.

During the course of the surveillance operation, SYP determined Zide had a network of associates fulfilling different roles within the operation; and three of them: Bernice Beal, Amber Barnett and Rachel Murdoch were brought before Judge Wright on Friday, September 8, 2023 to be sentenced for their involvement. 

Bernice Beal (top right) and Rachel Murdoch (bottom right) have both been jailed for their role in the substantial South Yorkshire drug empire of Callum Zide (left)Bernice Beal (top right) and Rachel Murdoch (bottom right) have both been jailed for their role in the substantial South Yorkshire drug empire of Callum Zide (left)
Bernice Beal (top right) and Rachel Murdoch (bottom right) have both been jailed for their role in the substantial South Yorkshire drug empire of Callum Zide (left)

Judge Wright told the trio that ‘each conspirator involved in the enterprise, whatever their role, helped to sustain the enterprise, and helped it to prosper’. 

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She added: “You were part of a huge conspiracy to supply drugs, and must bear responsibility for the overall enterprise.”

Prosecuting barrister, Anthony Dunne, said Murdoch was ‘effectively’ Zide’s ‘banker,’ who was charged with responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of pounds coming through the operation; while Beal was responsible for operating one of Zide’s drug lines in Barnsley, and had recruited her then teenage daughter, Barnett, to help her in that endeavour.  

Summarising each of the defendants’ offending, Judge Wright told Murdoch: “Over a period of a number of months in 2021, you stored, counted, prepared and distributed cash generated by Callum Zide’s trade in Class A drugs.”

Rachel Murdoch acted as Zide's 'banker,' Sheffield Crown Court has heard Rachel Murdoch acted as Zide's 'banker,' Sheffield Crown Court has heard
Rachel Murdoch acted as Zide's 'banker,' Sheffield Crown Court has heard

Judge Wright said Murdoch’s role as a ‘banker’ involved her coming into contact with very large sums of money. 

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Mr Dunne detailed how when Murdoch was arrested by police on July 28, 2021, officers found £202,000 in cash at her home address, which was packaged in an ‘identical’ way to the £30,050 in cash found at the family home of Zide, of Abbey Lane, Beauchief, Sheffield.

Judge Wright said the quantities of money Murdoch helped to count, store and distribute suggested she was ‘clearly trusted’ by Zide, aged 34. 

Turning to Beal, aged 57, Judge Wright said: “I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that you were operating with a significant role…you were the operator of a drugs line, and involved your own teenage daughter, as she was at the time. That was an appalling thing to do, and means your daughter now sits in the dock of a Crown Court beside you.

Judge Wright branded Bernice Beal's decision to recruit her teenage daughter to help her with the drug line as 'appalling' Judge Wright branded Bernice Beal's decision to recruit her teenage daughter to help her with the drug line as 'appalling'
Judge Wright branded Bernice Beal's decision to recruit her teenage daughter to help her with the drug line as 'appalling'

She added: “It arose directly out of your own addiction to drugs, demonstrating the catastrophic effects of Class A drugs, and the harm that can occur.”

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Judge Wright said Beal, of Grange Drive, Barnsley was ‘not deterred’ from selling Class A drugs, even after Zide’s arrest. 

Mr Dunne said Beal and Barnett, also of Grange Drive, Barnsley, were themselves arrested on Upper Wortley Road, Rotherham, on May 24, 2021; and upon seeing police officers approach, Barnett, then aged 19, was seen to throw a packet from the Ford Focus vehicle they were travelling in. 

The package was subsequently retrieved, and was found to contain numerous packages of crack cocaine with an estimated street value of £2,200.

Judge Wright said she accepted the basis of plea put forward by Barnett, now aged 21, in which she stated her mother, for whom she was a carer, directed her to ‘obtain drugs for sale’. 

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All three defendants pleaded guilty to the charges they faced at earlier hearings, with Beal admitting to charges of conspiracy to supply heroin, conspiracy to supply cocaine, two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to supply and a further charge of possession of heroin with intent to supply.

Murdoch pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to transfer criminal property and possessing criminal property, and Barnett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply heroin and one count of conspiracy to supply cocaine. 

Vanessa Saxton, defending Murdoch, said her client had not been involved with the supply of drugs, did not know the other people involved; and ‘helped’ Zide, who was a ‘trusted neighbour’ whose children went to the same school as hers. 

Ms Saxton also stated that Murdoch had ‘not benefited at all’ from her involvement with the operation, to which Judge Wright replied: “She was doing it out of the goodness of her heart, Ms Saxton?”

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Ms Saxton said she was ‘not saying that,’ but added that, to her knowledge, no evidence of Murdoch ever receiving a ‘financial reward’ has ever been obtained. 

She told the court that Murdoch is a mother to four children, two of whom are still at home, and is a grandmother to a 12-month-old baby, who she is helping her daughter to raise. 

The kingpin of the substantial drugs enterprise, Callum Zide, was jailed for 17 years, six months during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court on September 1, 2023The kingpin of the substantial drugs enterprise, Callum Zide, was jailed for 17 years, six months during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court on September 1, 2023
The kingpin of the substantial drugs enterprise, Callum Zide, was jailed for 17 years, six months during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court on September 1, 2023

Ashleigh Heyworth, defending Beal, said her client was a drug user of many years, who found herself in a ‘vicious cycle,’ after a drug debt she accrued led to her going from ‘purchasing drugs to finding herself involved with the sale of drugs’. 

Ms Heyworth said Beal continued to sell drugs after Zide was arrested because an unidentified male she believed to be associated with Callum Zide ‘visited her address’ and demanded £5,000 he claimed she had racked up through a drug debt. 

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“The defendant accepts full responsibility for her, and her daughter’s, involvement, and is deeply ashamed,” Ms Heyworth said, adding that Beal has taken steps to address her drug problem during the two years she has spent on bail, and is now prescribed methadone.

Richard Davies, defending Barnett, said the young woman had ‘grown up in a hard environment, to say the least’ in part, caused by her mother’s drug use. Mr Davies said Barnett had acted as her mother’s carer, and was recruited to assist her in the drugs line during that time. 

He suggested that given Barnett’s young age, good character, willingness to work with the probation service, and the ‘lesser role’ she played in the enterprise, Judge Wright could suspend any custodial sentence. 

Judge Wright agreed, and suspended Barnett’s 20 month prison sentence for two years, and told her to complete 15 rehabilitation activity days. 

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Beal and Murdoch were both sentenced to 30 months’ custody, however. 

Sending the pair to prison, Judge Wright acknowledged Murdoch has numerous family members who are dependent on her, but added: “It’s a great pity you didn’t think of your family, and your children in particular, when you involved yourself in a substantial criminal enterprise.” 

Turning to Beal, Judge Wright said she regarded her decision to continue selling Class A drugs, even after Zide’s arrest, to be a significant aggravating factor. 

*Zide’s sentence of 17 years, six months follows him entering guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of class A, two counts of conspiracy to transfer criminal property, four counts of conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of class A, one count of possessing a controlled drug of class A with intent, two counts of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of class A and one count of possessing a knife blade/sharp point article in a public place. 

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-Another associate involved in the enterprise, Rahim Ahmed, aged 30, of Clay Pit Way, Greenland, Sheffield, was sentenced during the same court hearing as Zide on September 1, 2023. Judge Wright sentenced him to 40 months’ custody for charges of conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of class A, possessing a controlled drug of class A with intent and possessing criminal property