A NORTH East man serving a lengthy prison sentence for involvement in drug supply in Scotland has now also been jailed for offences committed in this region.

Jake Galea-Hughes, from Penshaw, near Sunderland, received a 40-month sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh in January, after admitting being concerned in the supply of etizolam.

He was one of two men arrested at a street Valium ‘factory’ operated in a remote farmhouse in Ayrshire, from where police recovered 229,000 of the blue pills, a quantity of etizolam powder and several pill presses, capable of producing more than 14,000 tablets of the class C drug per hour.

The police raid followed a crash involving a drugs courier in the operation on a nearby road, after which thousands of pills were found in her car, in December 2020.

Galea-Hughes was said to have been "recruited" to assist the operation, using his engineering skills to maintain the production machinery, as a means of meeting his heavy drug debts.

Following resolution of the case in Scotland, the 27-year-old defendant, of Whitefield Cottages, has now appeared for sentence at Durham Crown Court for several outstanding drugs and motoring offences committed in the North East in 2019 and 2020, prior to his arrest in Ayrshire.

The court heard he was involved in a police pursuit while driving a Mitsubishi pick-up in the Penshaw area on July 31, 2019, after which quantities of ecstasy and diazepam tablets were recovered from his home.

Read more: Crime gang, mainly from North East, dealt in 'industrial quantities' of drugs

Robin Patton, prosecuting, said having been released “under investigation” for those offences, Galea-Hughes was stopped while at the wheel of a Range Rover, shortly after midnight on January 25, 2020.

He was found in possession of two counterfeit £50 notes plus class B and C drugs.

More counterfeit notes, totalling £570, and almost £9,000-worth of drugs were recovered from his home.

While on bail he was involved in another police chase, in a Volkswagen Caddy, from Seaton Burn, north of Newcastle, on the A1 western bypass, in residential areas of Shiney Row and then onto the A19, the A1231 and A195, on July 13, 2020.

Mr Patton said police brought it to an end with a “controlled contact” manoeuvre at a dead end and, as the defendant left his vehicle, officers approaching on foot prior to his arrest saw him swallow some white powder.

He was also in possession of 49 diazepam tablets and was found to have an excess of the class C drug and of cocaine in his system for driving.

Galea-Hughes made no comment in interview, but has gone on to admit dangerous driving, careless driving, and drug driving.

He has also admitted a series of drugs offences, including possession with intent to supply class B substances, plus possessing counterfeit currency.

David Lamb QC, in mitigation, said the offences date back between two and three years and have all been put on hold by proceedings in Scotland.

Mr Lamb said with the most serious of the driving offences, Galea-Hughes was desperate not to be stopped as he wanted to attend a family funeral later that day.

He said the defendant has been behind bars since his remand in custody for the Scottish offences on December 9, 2020, meaning his earliest release date for that sentence is not until August.

He said much of that time has been spent in one of the country’s “most notorious” establishments, HMP Barlinnie, in Glasgow.

Imposing a total of 26 months for the North East offences, Judge Ray Singh said as it is a separate jurisdiction to Scotland he was unable to make the sentences consecutive.

Galea-Hughes was banned from driving for four years and one month.

The judge also made a forfeiture order for £1,200 of legal currency seized from the defendant upon one of his arrests.

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