Police unlock county lines drug dealer's phone with first guess at password

Finlay Hughes

Finlay Hughes was jailed for 40 months at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A drug dealer who stayed in hotels while using the homes of vulnerable addicts for heroin and crack dens in Ipswich has been jailed for more than three years.

Finlay Hughes refused to divulge his phone's six-digit code following his arrest and the subsequent discovery of 132 class A drug wraps in his possession on March 13.

When officers unlocked the phone by trying his date of birth, it was revealed to contain the addresses of vulnerable local drug users, along with hotel bookings, images of significant sums of cash and connections to the 'Alfie' supply line.

Finlay Hughes cash

An image of cash found on Finlay Hughes' phone - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Hughes, of no fixed address, was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday for possession with intent to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

The 24-year-old, who admitted both offences at an earlier hearing before magistrates on April 12, had only been released from prison on licence the previous February after serving 32 months for armed robbery in Shrewsbury.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said Hughes had been staying at the Premier Inn for five days before his arrest on March 13 at a 'cuckooed' flat in Mountbatten Court.

A search of the property, and a subsequent hunt through his hotel room, turned up 40 wraps of heroin and 92 wraps of crack cocaine, weighing a total of 9.84 grammes and worth at least £1,320.

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Mr Farmer said phone evidence showed Hughes had also been staying at a hotel in Ipswich during February and was booked in to stay at the Premier Inn until March 20.

"He was a well stocked class A drug dealer, generating significant amounts of money, sufficient to enable him to stay in hotels, while exerting control over the homes of vulnerable people," added Mr Farmer.

Finlay Hughes cash

An image of cash found on Finlay Hughes' phone - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Giles Morrison, mitigating, said Hughes had been under pressure to start dealing drugs in order to repay a debt accumulated through his own cocaine habit.

He said Hughes had since kicked the habit while on remand in prison, and would be able to find work and accommodation if spared a custodial sentence.

Jailing him for 40 months, Judge Emma Peters said there was an irresistible inference that Hughes was involved in county lines drug dealing and exercising control over the homes of vulnerable people.

Acting Sergeant Amy Maguire, from Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "It is clear from the evidence and what officers were faced with when they forced their way into the property that the female found with Hughes was a victim of cuckooing.

"This was a county lines operation where illegal drugs are transported from one area or county into another with Hughes exploiting the vulnerable.” 

If you know of suspicious activity taking place in your area, call Suffolk police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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