A DRUG addict aged 50 from Deeside who allowed a criminal gang from Liverpool to use her home as a safe house to store and distribute drugs has been jailed.

So has a young man who was used as a cuckoo in her home to deal dangerous class A drugs.

A judge said the case again showed how those who ran the criminal gang distanced themselves from what was going on.

Mold Crown Court heard the word “on” was sent from a so-called graft phone advertising when heroin and cocaine was available.

Eileen Maher, of Brookside in Garden City, said to have been taken advantage of and who was paid in drugs to feed her own habit, was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Lewis Hayes, 27, of Waterside, Bootle, Merseyside, received a three years sentence.

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Lewis Hayes

Both admitted charges of being concerned in the supply of dangerous drugs following their arrest at her home in November of last year.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said police executed a search warrant at Maher's home as a result of intelligence that the house was being used as part of a "county lines" operation.

It involved large scale dealers seeking to infiltrate the area by using a so-called graft phone to supply drugs.

The house was being used as a local safe house where drugs could be stored for onward distribution.

Plainly, the “main men” were well removed from what was happening locally, the judge said.

Such county line cases had grown in recent years and created problems and misery not only to those addicted and their immediate families but to the communities who had to deal with the dishonesty and violence to facilitate the supply of drugs.

Both, he said, were playing a role in serious crime. They both had drugs habits, they knew the consequences if they were caught, but chose to take the risk.

The judge said the defendants were helping those higher up the supply chain to supply drugs locally.

Maher had allowed her home to be used and text messages made it clear that she was also facilitating others to have contact with dealers to obtain their drugs but it was accepted she was not doing so for profit.

Hayes had become involved because of a drugs debt and had only moved into Maher’s house a couple of days before the police arrested them but there was a commercial element to his involvement.

Both, Judge Rowlands said, had a fairly limited role under the direction of others but they knew the scale of the operation.

Barrister Karl Scholz, prosecuting, said it was a county lines case where a graft phone sent out adverts - in the present case simply the word “now” to advertise that drugs were available.

On one occasion 78 such messages were sent out in an eight minute period.

Hayes was a cuckoo in Maher’s home but it was clear that he had only just arrived a couple of days before and that someone else had been doing it previously.

Police were investigating the activities of a Liverpool crime gang known as “Joe’s firm” who had used Maher’s house to deal drugs.

Texts requesting “w” (white for cocaine) or “d” (dark for heroin) had been found on Maher’s phone.

Maher was said to have allowed her home to be used at a time when she was addicted herself.

She had never been to custody before.

Hayes, the father of a six-year-old boy, had done it to help pay off a drugs debt, the court was told.