Didcot drug lord jailed for 17 years following £1.3m drug conspiracy

A Didcot drug lord smirked as he said ‘thank you’ to the judge after being handed a 17-year prison sentence for heading up a £1.3m drug conspiracy in the Didcot, Newbury and Reading areas.

Neil Wadley, 47, of Pound Lane in Upton, near Didcot, received his sentence at Oxford Crown Court today after previously pleading guilty to five counts of conspiracy to supply drugs – two of which were class A drugs – and a count of possession with intent to supply methoxetamine.

The conspiracy saw Wadley and his organised crime group conduct operations in the area from April 2014 to March 2015, where the purchase and selling of cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine and ketamine was carried out.

In his sentencing of Wadley, Judge Peter Ross said: “You are a professional criminal and you have made a great deal of money from your criminal activity.

“I read a letter from you where you sought to express remorse. I reject that entirely as you sought to lay the blame at the door of others. You were prepared, like others, to profit from an evil trade.

“This court sees day in, day out, the consequences of addiction. You were prepared to peddle drugs knowing that they were likely to destroy lives.”

After the judge finished his sentencing, Wadley smirked and responded: “Thank you judge.”

Wadley was found to have been involved in the acquisition and sale of 6kg of cocaine and police estimate that his operation were involved in the sale of between 50kg and 100kg of cannabis with the drug dealer said to have acted as a ‘broker’ in the negotiations between parties.

His organisation was found to have used encrypted phones, specified equipment and modified cars in order to peddle the product to Newbury, Reading, Bristol and Somerset.

Wadley was sentenced amongst Arthur Desousa, of Dee Road, Tilehurst, Reading who ran a lesser criminal group in the Reading area and Vasil Rica, an Albanian international of Southchurch Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, who acted as a supplier and distributer for both group’s transactions involving cocaine.

Desousa, 48, received a 15-year imprisonment sentence after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine with Rica, 36, receiving an 11-year sentence for one count of conspiracy to supply the same drug.

Prosecutor Michael Roques told the court today: “Wadley headed up this conspiracy and was at all times controlling and dictating the behaviour of others.

“He was heard by police bragging about how much money he was making.”

Brendan Kelly, defending, said: “There were elements of his behaviour that played a lead role in the operation but it seems he acted as a broker in the deals that were made.”

Wadley, a father-of-three, also had a previous conviction in which he received a 54-month sentence for two counts of conspiracy to supply drugs (MDMA) 22 years ago.

Thames Valley Police used a concealed recording device to record Wadley and his associates from August 2014 to March 2015 as part of Operation Samba, in which he was heard over the phone talking about the purchase of cocaine.

Wadley and Rica were also spotted in cars discussing previous drug deals, which involved amounts of around £127,000 being spoken of.

The operation ended when Wadley fled to Spain after Desousa and an associate, Gary De’Oliveira, were arrested following police investigating a property in Newtown Road, Newbury, where 3.5kg of cocaine was discovered.

Wadley was subsequently arrested a few months later on March 11 last year by Spanish police under Operation Captura before pleading guilty to all counts at four separate hearings in September, October and November last year.

Proceedings following the operation began on October 26 at the court and 11 men were subsequently convicted.

Wadley’s right-hand man, Gary Hunt, 49 of Church Street, Didcot, and Wadley’s associate Paul Blair, 34, of Hazel Close, Abingdon, were sentenced to eight and a half years and six years and four months respectively after both pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply a cocaine and cannabis.

Errol Brown, 52, of Kibble Close, Didcot, was also sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply MDMA.

Det Insp Rachel Wheatman, from the police’s serious and organised crime unit who took part in Operation Samba, said: “Disrupting this extensive supply chain and sending those involved to jailed for a long time has been extremely satisfying for all of us who worked on this series of investigations.

“This has been a lengthy and complex case involving a lot of hard work over a sustained period of 18 months.”