Sunderland football coach facing jail for role in cocaine supply ring
A football coach is one of six men facing lengthy prison sentences after they were convicted of being part of a major drugs supply ring.
Stuart Gooden, who has been assistant manager at Northern League outfit Ryhope CW, was one of six men involved in the supply of cocaine in Sunderland, Seaham and other parts of East Durham.
They and others who are being dealt with separately, were caught after a lengthy and complex surveillance operation by Durham Police.
Detectives established there were two main conspirators, neither of whom can be named for legal reasons.
"The activity centred around those two men," said Peter Makeapeace, QC, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court.
"In 2014 going into 2015 there undoubtedly existed in the Seaham, Sunderland, and East Durham areas a large scale criminal conspiracy to supply cocaine of high purity.
"It is the Crown's case these six men were each at one time or another, and each to a different extent and capacity, involved in that conspiracy."
Mr Makepeace told the jury imported cocaine was usually high purity.
"That may be as high as 98%," added Mr Makepeace.
"The cocaine moves through the hands of different people, commonly being diluted with mixing agents, and is often no more than five to 15% pure when supplied at street level.
"Like any commercial supply process, a number of people are involved in the logistics, and they play different roles.
"Some may be responsible for supplying the product, some storing it, some processing it, some distributing it, and some delivering it and collecting the money it generated.
"Each of these six individuals were involved in the conspiracy to supply drugs in one way or another."
Mr Makepeace summarised the role of each defendant:
Robert Anderson supplied high grade cocaine to one of the ringleaders.
Stuart Gooden was regularly supplied nine ounce blocks of cocaine by the ringleaders.
Andrew Belford was supplied with cocaine for onward commercial supply.
Darren McBride was involved in a similar way to Belford.
Paul Casey was supplied with cocaine for onward supply to his own customer base.
Ryan Johnson supplied cocaine to one of the ringleaders and to others.
Anderson, 45 ,of D'Arcy Court, Hendon, Sunderland; Gooden, 38, of Ullswater Drive, Washington; Belford, 33, of Londonderry Street, Silksworth, Sunderland; McBride, 34, of Hendon Grange, Sunderland; Casey, 45, of North View Castletown, Sunderland; and Johnson, 26, of Dene Crescent, Shotton Colliery, each denied conspiracy to supply class A drugs in 2014 and 2015.
Each was found guilty by the jury after a trial lasting six weeks.
Tony Davis, for Anderson, applied for bail pending sentence next year.
"Each of the defendants has been on bail for two years," said Mr Davis. "There has been no difficulty in that time.
"They have turned up when asked to do so, and behaved appropriately at court.
"Each would welcome the opportunity to put their affairs in order before the inevitable custodial sentence."
Judge Deborah Sherwin remanded all six men in custody.
"They are all facing lengthy sentences," said the judge. "It would not be appropriate to renew bail."
The six men will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.when all trial counsel is available.
Judge Sherwin said sentencing should take place no later than January because the men were entitled to know their fate 'sooner rather than later'.