THREE out-of-town drug dealers have been found guilty of wounding a Leeds man and conspiracy to supply cocaine following a night of violence linked to so-called “county lines” drug dealing in Harrogate.
Mohamed Abdi, 26, of Tower Street, Leicester, Adirahman Shire, 22, of Oak Street, Leicester, and Julian Soares, 23, of Brixton, London, were found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm by a jury following a two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court.
Soares was also found guilty of administering a noxious substance and conspiracy to supply heroin.
The charge of wounding with intent relates to an attack at a property on Skipton Road when a 38-year-old man from Leeds was stabbed.
All three defendants were cleared of a charge of attempted murder.
The charge of administering a noxious substance relates to an attack on Kings Road when a 37-year-old man from Harrogate had a corrosive liquid thrown in his face.
Leeds Crown Court heard the attacks were part of a recent phenomenon known as “county lines” dealing in which drug traffickers try to expand their markets from big cities to smaller towns.
Jurors were told how gang members are prepared to use “extreme violence” to gain a foothold in local markets and chase out established dealers.
At around 11.20pm on 20 October 2017, North Yorkshire Police were called to Bilton Working Men’s Club where a man sought refuge after the liquid was sprayed in his face when he was approached by Soares on Kings Road, in the mistaken belief that he was a rival drug dealer.
On arrival at the scene, officers also found a man nearby with stab wounds who was later identified as one of the defendants in the case, Mohamed Abdi, who had suffered a punctured lung during the incident at Skipton Road.
He was taken to Leeds General Hospital for treatment to his injuries and told police he couldn’t remember what had happened.
Around ten minutes later, police received another call, this time from nearby Unity Grove, reporting that two men were injured in an alleyway, one of them seriously, and was asking for help.
On arrival, officers found the 38-year-old man from Leeds who had sustained 12 stab wounds to his body resulting in a collapsed lung and a serious laceration to his ankle that required extensive surgery.
A second victim, who has subsequently been jailed for drug dealing, Audley Anthony St Patrick Mascoll, 54, from Leeds, was also stabbed during the incident, however the three defendants were found not guilty of wounding Mr Mascoll.
The court heard how the injured man was attacked by Adbi, Shire and Soares at a property on Skipton Road after the three defendants had established themselves as dealers in Harrogate in the weeks prior to the incident, “cuckooing” at various addresses. Believing him to be a rival dealer on their “turf” they attacked him.
All three have been remanded in custody and are due to appear at court this for sentencing.
Detective Inspector Ian Pope of Harrogate Police , said: “This case has all the hallmarks of the violent tactics used by those involved in county lines and caused considerable alarm among the local community. I hope local people are reassured that those responsible have been taken off the streets and now wait to hear their sentence.
“County lines drug dealing is a form of organised crime that has the exploitation of vulnerable people and serious violence at its centre. It ruins lives and communities and we won’t tolerate it in North Yorkshire.
“Our priority is to safeguard anyone who has been groomed or threatened into working for these people, either to sell drugs or forced to give up their home to drug dealers.
“We’ll continue to pursue those who travel to the area and exploit local people and provide support for those who have been victimised.
“We have staff permanently dedicated to investigating county lines and urge anyone who has any information about suspected drug dealing or has concerns for a young person in their neighbourhood, to let us know.
“Drug dealing is often hidden and reporting your suspicions will help build up our intelligence picture and inform our enforcement activity.”
Please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 and pass information to the Force Control Room. If you prefer not to speak to the police and wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.