Drug dealer who supplied customers in Exeter churchyard jailed for six years

John Gill has been jailed for six years. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

John Gill has been jailed for six years. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police - Credit: Archant

A drug dealer whose last fixed address was in Sidmouth has been jailed for six years after he was caught red-handed supplying in a churchyard.

John Gill set up his own drug dealing line with friend Stephen Vaughan and sent messages to 90 customers telling them where and when they would be available.

They were spotted by policemen in plain clothes in the historic St Bartholemew's graveyard in the centre of Exeter, known as the Catacombs, which has become an area notorious for drug dealing.

Exeter Crown Court heard how Gill had the mobile phone which was used to arrange deals while Vaughan had 13 wraps containing £10 heroin deals and £870 cash from previous sales.

Detectives found messages on the phone which showed they were running their own operation using the name John'n'Steve out of the Gabriel House resettlement hostel in Exeter. Gill was trying to fund a £250 a day heroin habit and has a long history of drug dealing, having served four previous sentences for it. He has already served one minimum sentence as a 'three-strikes and you're out' dealer after being caught acting as local agent for a London based gang in 2014.

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Gill's co-defendant Vaughan, aged 43, died of a suspected drugs overdose in October last year, while awaiting trial.

Gill, aged 45, whose last permanent address was in Howarth Close, Sidmouth, admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin and was jailed for six years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court on Thursday, January 30.

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The judge told him: "You may find it nearly impossible to break your drug habit, but there is a difference between continuing to use heroin and deciding to engage in this sort of supply operation."

Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said plain clothes police saw Gill and Vaughan supplying drugs for around an hour on the morning of May 30 last year before arresting them in the Catacombs graveyard. Miss Payne said Gill had only £11.95 on him but was getting drugs from Vaughan to take to customers and giving him the cash for safekeeping.

The phone had messages going back to April 10 which offered deals to 90 customers, the court heard. Rachel Smith, defending, said Gill left prison after his previous sentence homeless and soon fell back into using heroin, developing a habit which cost him up to £300 a day.

Miss Smith said he was dealing to pay for his own supply rather than profit, and there were none of the trappings of luxury often associated with drug dealing.

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