A Londoner who allegedly ran a County Lines operation in Ottery St Mary has claimed that he was forced into drug dealing.

Kaarlo Wicks was arrested at a known drug user’s home in November 2019 with heroin and cocaine and is alleged to have made a series of trips from London to Devon taking drugs one way and money back.

A jury at Exeter Crown Court has been told that a woman from Ottery St Mary, a man from Beer and two young Londoners have all admitted taking part in a drugs operation.

Wicks, aged 22, of Hackney, North London, denies conspiracy to supply class A drugs between November 26, 2019 and February 7, 2020. He says he was acting under duress.

The jury have been told that Nathan Ross, aged 39, of Beer; Imad Talbi and Umit Tutal, both aged 22, and from London, have admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and Gemma Small, aged 47, of Mossop Close, Ottery St Mary has admitted allowing her premises to be used for the supply the drugs.

Mr Daniel Pawson-Pounds, prosecuting, said the group ran a County Lines drug supply operation using the street name Doctor to advertise to users.

They used two different phone lines, both known as Doctor lines, and Wicks, Talbi and Tutal made regular trips from London to East Devon to restock.

Wicks was arrested alongside Ross and Small when police raided her home in Ottery St Mary on November 26, 2019. Talbi and Tutal were arrested in Axminster in February 2020.

Wicks was found with a Nokia and an Alcatel phone, and 122 wraps of crack cocaine with a street value of £2,820 were seized from his black Uniqlo jacket alongside a single wrap containing £1,600 worth of heroin.

Another two wraps of crack with a value of £70 were found in an Astra car parked outside which had paperwork inside that linked it to Wicks.

Mr Pawson-Pounds said the Crown’s case is that Wicks took part willingly and continued to associate with Talbi and Tutal after his arrest in November 2019.