Resort drugs gang pair’s jail terms slashed

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Two men who were part of a major drugs gang run by a Fylde coast “kingpin” have had their jail sentences reduced on appeal.

The pair were jailed for their parts in a plot, centred on Blackpool, to deal huge quantities of cocaine.

At the head of the plot was Fylde coast man Lee Broadbent, 33, who was jailed for 16 years in February this year.

Police said Lee Broadbent, who lived a luxury lifestyle in a home in Poulton – and who fled to Spain’s Costa Del Sol when police closed in – thought he was “untouchable”.

But, following a major in- vestigation in which officers gathered proof he had imported four or five kilos of the class A drug in the space of just nine days, detectives finally caught up with him as he visited a Spanish water park and extradited him back to the UK.

Now two members of his gang, Michael Lee Johnson, 33, and Adam John Boyd, 47, who were among members sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy to supply the drug, have had their jail slashed on appeal.

Both admitted the plot and were jailed at Preston Crown Court in January, Johnson for 11 years and Boyd for nine years.

But after an appeal, three senior judges slashed the ‘manifestly excessive’ sentences to nine-and-a-half and eight years, respectively.

A third man, Waseem Afzal, 33, had his appeals against conviction and eight-year sentence refused by the judges.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Jay said the conspiracy centred on Blackpool and ran from June 2011 to January 2012.

At least five kilos of cocaine were supplied during the plot, he said. But he said the crown court judge had taken too high a ‘starting point’ when deciding sentences for Johnson, of Briar Hill Court, Salford, and Boyd, of Thirlmere Road, Partington, Manchester.

Account had also to be taken of the length of time it took in sentencing them, he said, after their cases were delayed due to a major player going on the run.

Taking into account mitigating factors in each of their cases, the sentences were ‘excessive’, he said.

Afzal, of Camden Street, Nelson, appealed on the basis the prosecution case was so weak the trial should have been stopped.

He complained the only evidence against him seemed to be contact between him and others involved in the plot.

But Mr Justice Jay said: ‘There was a case for Mr Afzal to answer. The evidence went considerably further than guilt by association.’

He said all relevant factors had been taken into account in deciding on Afzal’s eight-year sentence. His appeals were refused.