A judge has reduced the sentences of two people leading a regional drugs gang.

The gang flooded the North East with millions of pounds worth of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, after working in partnership throughout County Durham and Merseyside.

Ricky Hemmings was supplying the Class A and B drugs from his Merseyside home to Darren Towler and his criminal network, which involved burner and encrypted phones, complex logistics, and frequent communications.

But former world champion cage fighter Towler, the linchpin of the North East-based gang, is still on the run after being convicted in his absence of orchestrating the conspiracy alongside his sister, half-brother and girlfriend.

The 41-year-old of Rutherford Street, Newcastle, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine but admitted the same charge for cannabis. Meanwhile, Hemmings, from Kirkby, in Merseyside, admitted a conspiracy charge relating to unknown quantities of cocaine and amphetamines at an earlier hearing.

Read more: North East gang shipped kilos of cocaine and amphetamine

The Northern Echo: Consett-born Darren Towler is still on the runConsett-born Darren Towler is still on the run (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Judge Jonathan Carroll revised the pair’s sentences at Teesside Crown Court on Monday. Towler’s sentence for the second charge was reduced to 13 years, while Hemmings had one of his sentences slashed by six years and nine months. However, the sentences were initially ordered to run concurrently meaning they haven't changed overall.

An earlier hearing at Teesside Crown Court heard detectives were unable to put an exact figure on the amount of drugs and cash that flowed across the country but they traced more than ten trips between the North East and North West over a five-month period in 2017.

Their investigations showed there were multiple kilos of drugs exchanged for hundreds of thousands of pounds – including more than £100,000 wrapped up in two shoe boxes disguised as presents for children.

A judge said the purity of the cocaine – between 90 per cent and 95 per cent – proved how high up the gangs were in the drug supply network

Anita Towler, 43, of Second Street, Consett, was due to be sentenced on Monday for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs alongside Steven Ruddick, 38, of Pasture Row, Eldon, who pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

However, Judge Carroll adjourned the sentencing to a later date.

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