Topsham: drug dealer who took a toddler with him while he sold crack has been jailed - the buyer was an undercover police officer

PUBLISHED: 18:00 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:00 15 January 2018

Frank Searle

Frank Searle

Archant

Drug dealer Frank Searle, of Topsham, took a two-year-old child with him on a trip to sell drugs; Searle has been jailed after the buyer turned out to be an undercover police officer.

A drug dealer who took a two-year-old child with him on a trip to sell drugs has been jailed after the buyer turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Frank Searle was delivering crack cocaine which the officer had ordered from a London-based drugs gang as part of a two month sting operation.

Searle delivered the two packets of crack from the window of his car after pulling up at an agreed rendezvous point outside the Spar shop in Magdalen Road, Exeter.

The police officer, who used the cover name of Fletch, noticed a child of about two in a seat in the back of the car and more wraps of crack wrapped up in tissues next to the gearstick.

Searle, aged 43, of Topsham Road, Exeter, and formerly of Exmouth, admitted supplying a class-A drug and was jailed for five years and seven months by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge told him he had no option but to impose a minimum sentence because it was Searle’s third drug dealing conviction. The minimum term is seven years, less a fifth for a guilty plea.

The Judge told Searle: “Drugs have played a great part in your life for many years. I expect you are beginning to regret it. Maybe you have for some time.”

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said the undercover officer ordered drugs from a London based gang using the name Mitch and the two £10 wraps were delivered by Searle on September 6.

Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said Searle’s own abuse of class A drugs had caused him to suffer from psychosis and bi-polar disorder and to spend some time on a psychiatric ward.

He said Searle was pressured into acting as a runner after running up drug debts and had been caught on the one and only occasion he had done so.

He said his focus is now on looking after his two children and running his legitimate business when he is released.

Searle was jailed for six years in 2015 for conspiracy to supply heroin after he and a henchman were caught with half a kilo of the drug worth £30,000 and £27,500 in cash.

They operated out of houses in Exeter and Exmouth and bought drugs from Manchester which they distributed to Exeter, Exmouth and Newton Abbot.

Searle ran a windscreen repair company as a cover for the large amounts of cash which were generated by his operation. Police found £4,100 cash hidden under floorboards outside his bedroom.

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