A county lines criminal who assaulted a member of the public after they photographed him dealing drugs in Congleton Park has been sentenced to three years and eight months.
Matthew Hughes, 26, of Bank Street in Rookery pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine, possession with intent to supply heroin and cannabis, assault and criminal damage.
He was sentenced on Thursday 25 July at Chester Crown Court.
At 5.45pm on 28 May Hughes attacked a 51-year-old man who confronted him as he supplied drugs to a woman. He lunged at the victim, grabbing him around the neck in a vice-like hold while demanding he delete the photographs of his dealing.
In fear, the victim handed over his phone and Hughes punched it several times causing the screen to smash. Hughes ran off leaving the victim with a cracked rib along with injuries to his face.
Despite the damage to the phone, the photos were retrieved and Hughes was identified as a street dealer who worked for an organised county lines team in Liverpool supplying heroin and crack cocaine.
A county line is operated by an organised crime group who use a mobile phone, known as a ‘line’ or a ‘graft’ to extend their criminal activity business into new location – usually from a city into rural areas.
Hughes was arrested on 3 July and found to have heroin and crack cocaine in his possession.
Sergeant Keith Graham, of Congleton Police Station, said: “Hughes was well known in the Congleton area, he would be seen riding a bike and congregating in the park to deal drugs on behalf of organised criminals.
“Organised crime has a huge impact on local residents who understandably do not want so see their community riddled with drugs. We work very hard, often behind the scenes, to disrupt drug activity and while I do not advise confronting criminals directly I would encourage residents to keep reporting it to police.”
Residents are urged to report drug dealing by calling Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
To understand how to spot the signs of vulnerability and to find out how to protect your community from serious and organised crime please visit the Serious and Organised crime section of the website.
Information can also be provided by email https://cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries