SEVERAL men accused of transporting £58,000 worth of cocaine destined for the streets of Darlington have denied being part of the drug ring.

Paul Baveridge, 30, from Newton Aycliffe was the “brains” behind the conspiracy which transported cocaine from Lancashire with the help of “right hand man” Blake Stubbs, 23, and Alex Howe, 22, a court heard.

The trio are accused of joining forces with Daniel Field, 29, and Joseph McPartland, 28, to transport 500g of the class A drug worth a street value of £58,000.

Teesside Crown Court heard the cocaine was supplied by Oliver Pilkington, 25, and Ayaz Ismail, 36, from Lancashire who drove to a Darlington pub last May to hand over the stash in exchange of almost £15,000.

All of the suspects denied conspiring to supply cocaine but Pilkington and Field admitted being involved in the plan at an earlier hearing.

Paul Rooney, prosecuting argued Baveridge, of Pemberton Road, Newton Aycliffe, organised the deal from afar while his co-conspirators made the transaction.

He said: “Paul Baveridge is the controlling mind of the organisation, he is the brains and the organiser of the conspiracy. His right-hand man is Blake Stubbs. Alex Howe is an associate of Baveridge and Stubbs and he acts on their instructions.

“Baveridge organised the delivery of approximately half a kilo of cocaine from Lancashire to Darlington and the delivery was made by Oliver Pilkington and Ayaz Ismail.

“The cocaine recovered weighed 482 grams, just 18 grams short of half a kilo. This amount of cocaine at 43 per cent purity would usually cost about £9,000 to £12,000 if it was sold in one amount at wholesale.

“If it was sold as one ounce wholesale deals, it would be worth between £14,400 and £25,200 and if it was sold as 1g high purity street deals it would be worth £38,560 to £57,840.”

The court heard Pilkington, of Ley Street, Accrington, and Ismail, of Brixton Road, Preston, drove from Lancashire to a pub in Darlington. The pair handed over the two bags of cocaine kept in a Nike shoe box to Stubbs, of Pemberton Road, Newton Aycliffe, and Howe, of no fixed abode.

But the group were unaware they were being watched by Durham Constabulary officers and the transaction in the pub car park was witnessed by DC Natalie Hulse who said she saw the deal “as clear as day.”

The court heard the drugs were then handed over to McPartland, of Westfield Frosterly, Bishop Auckland and Field, of Station Road, Durham.

But when the pair were followed and pulled over by police McPartland panicked and tried to run away, dropping the cocaine and causing white powder to scatter across the road.

Mr Rooney said: “Joseph McPartland got out of the passenger seat and tried to run away, as he did so he dropped the Red Nike shoe box with the cocaine contained in two plastic bags inside of it. One of the bags split open and a small amount of cocaine spilled from it.

“McPartland immediately picked up the shoe box before attempting to run away again, as he did so he threw the shoebox onto the grassed area and the two plastic bags containing the cocaine fell out.”

The court heard following the arrest of McPartland and Field, Pilkington and Ismail were stopped by officers as they drove back to Lancashire and £14,930 in cash was discovered in their vehicle.

Mr Rooney said although Baveridge did not physically seal the drug deal, telephone evidence showed he was “the brains” behind the transaction.

He added the 30-year-old escaped to mainland Europe after the arrest of his co-conspirators but was arrested when he returned to the north east on a ferry from Amsterdam just days later.

Baveridge, Stubbs, Howe and McPartland deny one count of conspiring to supply cocaine while Ismail denied the charge as well as a second count of possessing criminal property of £14,930.

Field admitted to being part of the conspiracy and Pilkington pleaded guilty to the charge as well as possessing criminal property of £14,930.

The trial continues.