TWO men accused of planning to sell £58,000 worth of cocaine on the streets of Darlington weren’t involved in the drug deal because there is “no forensic evidence” linking them to the crime, a court heard.

Alex Howe, 22, and Blake Stubbs, 23, from Newton Aycliffe were allegedly part of the conspiracy to transport 500g of cocaine from Lancashire to the North-East last March.

But Teesside Crown Court heard there is “no forensic evidence” linking the pair to the drug deal which was witnessed by undercover police officers in a Darlington pub car park.

The duo refused to give evidence during the two-week trial but deny any involvement in the conspiracy.

They are accused alongside Paul Baveridge, 30, who was branded the “brains” behind the deal, Joseph McPartland, 28, who allegedly dropped the drugs while trying to escape police and Ayaz Ismail, 36, who is accused of transporting the cocaine from Lancashire in exchange for £14,930.

But Daniel Field, 29, and Oliver Pilkington, 25, admitted being part of the drug ring at an earlier hearing.

Delivering his closing statement, Shahnawaz Khan, defending Stubbs, said: “This is a jigsaw with many pieces but there are some pieces missing – there are assumptions and guesses. There is no evidence that the shoe box [allegedly containing the cocaine] was touched or in any contact with Mr Stubbs, there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence.

“The prosecution say Mr Stubbs is Mr Baveridge’s ‘right hand man’ – they are friends, like brothers, and were always phoning and messaging each other. There are no messages directly linking Mr Stubbs.”

Nigel Hedley, representing Howe, added there is “no forensic link” between his client and the drug deal he is accused of being involved in.

Russell Davies, defending Ismail, said his client’s previous conviction for supplying heroine and cocaine in Preston was irrelevant because he had “nothing to do with the deal”.

He said: “When interviewed by police, he said: ‘You can show me whatever you want but I keep saying, I’m not even interested because I have nothing to hide’ – that is an extraordinary attitude to take if the crown is right.

“The reason he was not bothered is because he genuinely had nothing to do with the deal. He didn’t know about the drug deal he didn’t know about the money.”

Baveridge and Stubbs, of Pemberton Road, Newton Aycliffe, Howe, of no fixed abode, and McPartland, of Westfield Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, deny one count of conspiring to supply cocaine.

Ismail, of Brixton Road, Preston denies the charge and a second count of possessing criminal property amounting to £14,930.

Field, of Station Road, Durham admitted to being part of the conspiracy and Pilkington of Ley Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to the charge as well as possessing criminal property amounting to £14,930.

The trial continues.