A SENTENCE for a drugs baron who supplied cocaine to dealers around Wrexham has been cut by a year.
Lee Stoba, 40, was at the pinnacle of a network running cocaine from Liverpool and Warrington to the Welsh town, London’s Appeal Court heard, and was even involved in a plot to buy and sell a stolen haul of platinum worth £250,000.
He was jailed for 14 years at Mold Crown Court in March after admitting two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, and one of handling stolen goods.
Stoba, of Riverside Close, Warrington, used a unit at Nelson Business Park in Wrexham as cover for his operations, said Mr Justice Royce, and stored large amounts of cocaine at the home of an accomplice who was in poor health.
When the accomplice’s home was searched by detectives, they discovered cocaine worth £50,000, plus ‘cutting agents’ used to bulk out and dilute the narcotic.
Associates of Stoba were also involved in a plot to buy a box of platinum, worth £250,000, stolen from Morgan Ceramics in Ruabon, said the judge, adding that Stoba became involved when he received a sample of the precious metal.
“Stoba was to test its purity,” said the judge, who added: “It was to be used as payment for drugs.”
Stoba’s case reached the Appeal Court after his legal team challenged the total 14-year term with claims that it was too harsh.
Lawyers disputed the ‘leading role’ attributed to him by the crown court judge.
Mr Justice Royce, sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Judge James Goss QC, said it was clear Stoba had made a “substantial gain” from his dealings and had been found by police to be using nine different mobile phones.
He was also in possession of £4,500 in cash and two high value watches. It was clear that Stoba had been “running this operation and was controlling what others did”, the judge added.
However, Mr Justice Royce went on to cut 12 months off Stoba's sentence in light of his early guilty pleas for which, he said, he had received insufficient credit.