Undercover Police Catch Drug Dealers

6 September 2013, 15:18 | Updated: 6 September 2013, 15:31

Three Watford drug dealers have been sentenced after police found cocaine and cannabis in an undercover operation.

They were arrested and cocaine and cannabis were seized after undercover police officers spent two days watching the suspects' movements.

They saw Deana Songhurst drive a Vauxhall Astra in the car park of the Badger Pub. She got out and climbed into her boyfriend Lee Bunce's van, which was parked outside the Badger Pub in Bowmans Green.

She was inside the van for 30 seconds and came out carrying a bag. When the police stopped her shortly afterwards she was asked what she had been doing.  She said: "I was getting my laptop from my boyfriend's van," St Albans crown court heard on Friday.

But Prosecutor Kevin West said the car was searched and cannabis was recovered along with scales, £122 and a mobile phone. At her home, more cannabis was seized. In all, the cannabis weighed 1.679 grams.

Songhurst's partner Lee Bunce admitted that the 30.3 grams of cocaine found in the Astra belonged to him.

Prosecutor Kevin West said on the previous day, 28 January this year, Songhurst was watched as she drove Bunce's Astra in Watford. She stopped and got into the passenger seat of a VW Golf being driven by Ian Hamlet and was seen to supply him with something.

The police raided Hamlet's home and seized 12.25 grams of cannabis, along with scales and £2,100 cash.

All three were arrested and gave no comment interviews.

Lee Bunce, 40, of Courtlands Drive, Watford pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply and three counts of possessing cannabis with intent.

Deana Songhurst, 36, of Ovaltine Drive, Kings Langley, pleaded guilty to six counts of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

Ian Hamlet, 31, of Russell Crescent, Watford, admitted one count of possessing 12.25 grams of cannabis with intent to supply and one of possessing cannabis.

Jonathan Simpson, defending, said Bunce was not selling cocaine, but was a custodian of the Class A drug for one week to settle a £200 drug debt.

He said Bunce had smoked cannabis since the age of 11, but was a highly skilled carpenter. Since the recession his work had dried up, he said.

Mr Simpson said Songhurst was 21 weeks' pregnant with Bunce's child. He said they had been trying for a baby before the court proceedings began and she had not fallen pregnant in an attempt to get a more lenient sentence. He said she had not benefited from the drug deal.

For Hamlet, Sarah Davies said cannabis had been his drug of choice since the age of 15. She said he had always worked since leaving school, in the leisure industry and then working as a roofer and fencer. Due to the collapse in the building trade he lost his work and was made redundant two years ago and is now on Job Seekers' Allowance. She said he was buying drugs in bulk for himself and his friends.

Judge Stephen Warner jailed Bunce for two and a half years. He told him he had played a "willing role in the distribution network for the drugs." He told him: "It is sad you have wasted your talent as a carpenter. Nothing can provide an excuse for getting involved in drug dealing."

He told Songhurst she was a "willing participant" and passed an 8 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months. Hamlet was ordered to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work and must abide by a 3 month curfew between 8pm and 6am.

The Astra and the van were seized by the police. The VW Golf belonged to Hamlet's mother and was returned to her. A confiscation hearing is to be heard at a later date.