Three drug dealers have been handed mammoth jail terms totalling 43 years – the first convictions for fentanyl supply since Robert's Law was introduced.
Tougher sentences for supplying fentanyl – a drug 50 times stronger than heroin – were introduced last year. Robert's Law followed a campaign led by myself and the mother of Robert Fraser, an 18-year-old from Deal, Kent, who died after taking the drug in 2016. The Sentencing Council published new guidance putting even small quantities of the drug into the top sentencing category.
The West Yorkshire gang jailed today (January 18) at Leeds Crown Court represents the first major conviction since Robert's Law was introduced. Jake Levene, 22, was given 16 years six months in jail, Lee Childs, 45, 10 years six months, and Mandy Christopher Lowther, 21, 16 years six months. It is thought the previous longest jail term handed out for fentanyl supply was Ross Brennan, who got 13 years. Six people identified from the latest gang's UK customer lists are known to have died from fentanyl-related deaths.
The gang mixed the drugs with bulking agents and posted them to customers throughout the UK, as well as to the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Singapore. Between December 2016 and April 2017 their business turned over £163,000 in cash.
The NCA said the trio operated from an industrial unit in Peel Street, Morley, Leeds, which was raided in April 2017. Inside investigators found Fentanyl, equipment for mixing and blending the drug, and 677g of pure carfentanyl, an even more powerful variant. Heavy duty gloves and two respirator masks, which the men wore to protect themselves while mixing and packaging the drugs, were also found.
Today we have seen Robert's Law in action for the first time. Fentanyl is not a conventional drug – it is a poison. People often don't know they are taking it because it is added cheaply to increase profit. We needed our justice system to recognise this particularly evil type of drug dealing. Now, anyone foolish enough to consider doing it will think twice, knowing they face decades behind bars.