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Drug dealer attempted to hide drugs up bum when police knocked at door

A teenage boy used to peddle drugs for the gang was found to be a victim of ‘modern slavery’

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Merseyside Police

A heroin and crack cocaine dealer attempted to hide drugs by stuffing them up his bum when police came knocking at his door.

Joshua Williams, 23, was found to be working in two county lines drug rings, one of which used a teenage boy to peddle the illegal substances for them, in a case of ‘modern slavery’.

Meanwhile, Emma Philbin, 40, operated the ‘graft phone’ on the line – which was known as ‘Sully’ – where she boasted the goods on offer were the ‘best in town’ and ‘fuel to make NASA jealous’.

On Tuesday September 19th, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mr Williams was a key part of two Liverpool-based operations, trading in the area of Widnes.

Merseyside Police

Prosecutor Robert Dudley told the court this involved taking over the homes of ‘vulnerable’ occupants using a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.

The Sully line, a gang which used the practice, saw class A drugs dealt from Ms Philbin’s – then home – located on Frederick Street in the Cheshire town, during the summer of 2021. 

A Samsung mobile phone which was recovered from a bed during a search of the house, on August 5th 2021, was found to contain several flare text messages which were sent out between the months of May and August, in order to advertise their wares for sale.

Example texts included ‘get your bits out for the lads’, ‘best of both str8 tens’ and ‘still around with the best in town’. 

Mikey / Flickr

Another text stored on the device read: “U stil on em im just leaving alton towers no ile be home for half 9 can I con and see u then.”

A Kinder Surprise egg was also found in a bedroom drawer at the address which contained three wraps of heroin and one of crack cocaine.

While under interview, Ms Philbin told detectives: “It’s all my fault. It’s all my flat. It’s all my doing, no one else’s.”

“A lad comes down, he normally sits there with me but he went home last night. He said he’d come back today to pick up more stuff,” she continued to explain.

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Ms Philbin, now of Halton Lodge Avenue, in Runcorn, added she ‘didn’t know his name but he was a Scouser aged about 21 or 22’. 

She also claimed to have been responsible for sending the text messages out, and was described as being ‘particularly proud’ of one which read: “We’ve got fuel to make NASA jealous.”

Ms Philbin would ‘pass the wraps’ and ‘give the money to the lads’, for which she would be ‘paid in bits’. 

Police raided Mr Williams’ then home on Dewsbury Road, in Anfield, the same morning.

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After a forced entry into the property, officers found him ‘crouching on the floor in the second bedroom, looking as though he was attempting both to conceal himself and seeking to conceal items into his anus’ as he was ‘messing with his boxer shorts’.

Officers took him to the kitchen while noticing his speech was ‘muffled’.

Mr Williams was ordered to open his mouth, revealing a ‘ball-shaped item’ which contained a further 38 wraps of heroin. More drugs were also found stashed in the same room.

He was later released under investigation but he was arrested again on April 21st 2023 alongside a 17-year-old boy from Liverpool, at another house in Lugsdale, Widnes.

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Police officer’s suspicions were aroused after two men were spotted knocking on a window at the property.

A Nokia ‘graft phone’ was ringing on the table while the boy was found to be hiding 72 wraps of crack cocaine in his underwear.

Officers in attendance witnessed a ‘gaunt’ looking drug user also approach the same window before ‘making off’ after seeing them. The premises had been subject to a closure order at the time.

The teenager was found to be a subject of ‘modern slavery’ and was not charged with any criminal offences in relation to the incident.

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In court, Mr Williams –represented by Matthew O’Neill – was described as a dad to a young child and as having previous convictions including a count of robbery as a youth in 2016.

Ms Philbin has a total of 40 convictions for 50 offences, and had been given an eight-week imprisonment suspended for 18 months for shoplifting in March 2021.

Appearing on her behalf, Jeremy Rawson outlined how his client had been ‘ravaged’ by drug use and working to ‘fund her own habit and pay off debts’. 

She was said to have since made efforts to overcome her addiction and volunteered with other ‘vulnerable’ members of society in similar situations.

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Mr Williams, now of Oxton Street in Walton, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine, being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine, possession of heroin with intent to supply and possession of cannabis.

Appearing via video link to HMP Liverpool, he was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.

Ms Philbin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and was handed a 24-month imprisonment suspended for two years, as well as a drug rehabilitation requirement and a rehabilitation activity requirement, of up to 27 days.

During sentencing, Recorder Ian Harris described Mr Williams as the ‘prime operator’ and Ms Philbin as a ‘weak or inadequate person predicated upon to allow her home to be used for a drug supply business’.

Calflier001 / Wikimedia

“The supply of class A drugs is corrosive. It can ruin individuals and communities,” he added.

To Ms Philbin, he said: “Unlike your co-defendant, you have used your time wisely. You have taken steps to improve yourself and rid yourself of that insidious drug addiction.

“In time, you would have destroyed yourself. You were used by those who were more sophisticated in drug supply.

“You are, in my judgement, a completely different individual now. I am able to suspend the sentence, just, to mark the astonishing progress you have made and to assist you in your attempts at rehabilitation.”


Paul O’Grady posthumously named Person of the Year by Peta

‘Peta urges everyone to follow his example and honour his memory by speaking up whenever they see an animal in need’

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@paulogrady / Instagram

The late TV star Paul O’Grady has been named Peta’s Person of the Year for his ‘lifelong determination to make the world a kinder place for animals’.

The animal rights organisation said ‘he never wavered in his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us’.

O’Grady, who passed away in March this year aged 67, was a leading figure in a number of animal rights campaigns including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which he was an ambassador for.

@paulogrady / Instagram

He rose to fame as a comedian best known for his drag persona Lily Savage. He went on to host light entertainment shows and became the host of For The Love of Dogs, which showcased life at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

The TV and radio star joined Peta in the 1990s to raise awareness about testing on animals, and urged the Lord Mayor of London to stop herding sheep across London Bridge in 2014.

He also raised awareness of the treatment of orcas kept in marine parks and joined a campaign to ban foie gras – a mousse or pate made from force-feeding ducks and geese.

Peta vice president Elisa Allen said: “Paul O’Grady once said that ‘it is our duty to treat animals with respect’, and he lived by his own principles every day by being a tireless animal advocate.

“Peta urges everyone to follow his example and honour his memory by speaking up whenever they see an animal in need.”

A statement from the Peta said: “Peta recognises and thanks Paul O’Grady for his lifelong determination to make the world a kinder place for animals.”

“He never wavered in his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us. We will always treasure his legacy of compassion,” it added.

O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio will be presented with the award on his behalf.

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Manchester’s historic Portico Library awarded huge grant to secure its future

The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building

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David Dixon / Geograph

The Grade II-listed Portico Library will receive almost half a million pounds to transform the historic building.

The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building – a much-loved gem standing proudly on Mosley Street.

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the £453,000 will see the treasured library undergo a huge revamp and preserve its book collection. 

Robert Wade / Flickr

During its development, local communities in Manchester will be invited to help work on the project.

With particular focus on environmentally sustainable architectural plans, it aims to unite all three original floors of The Portico Library for the first time in 100 years.

The ground floor will be transformed into a ‘Northern bookshop’ which will hold educational activities, with areas for dining, exhibitions areas and meeting spaces.

David Dixon / Geograph

While the upper floors will showcase the library’s incredible book collection and archives, which includes the first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

John Carpenter, Chair of the Portico Library, said: “The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting The Portico Library’s bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.”

David Dixon / Geograph

He added: “This visionary project, years in the making, fulfils our mission of working with the many people in Manchester to explore, share and celebrate their diverse stories and the city’s literary and global heritage.

“Embracing creativity, collaboration and inclusivity, the project will unlock the Library’s past to plan for the future. We would like to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible to realise our vision.”

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Handwritten note with ‘plan to kill’ Brianna Ghey found in accused girl’s room

The note was found during a police search

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Cheshire Police

A handwritten note with alleged details of a ‘plan to kill’ transgender teenager Brianna Ghey was found by police in the bedroom of Girl X.

The crumpled paper note (pictured) was discovered by officers during a search conducted at the accused’s home in March, more than a month after the tragic death of the 16-year-old.

Brianna was found after being stabbed 28 times in Culcheth Linear Park, Warrington, earlier this year.

The teenager was discovered by dog walkers just after 3pm on Saturday, February 11th.

Cheshire Police

Girl X from Warrington and Boy Y from Leigh both deny murder. During the trial, jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard how Girl X sent a picture of the handwritten note to Boy Y on February 3rd.

The note began with the header: “Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey.”

It continued: “Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library…bus stop. Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the 3 of us walk to Linear Park.

“Go to the pipe/tunnel area. I say code word to Boy Y. He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach. Boy Y drags the body into the area. We both cover up the area with logs etc.”

Cheshire Police

In her opening speech, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the jury: “It is clearly, the prosecution say, a plan to kill Brianna Ghey.” During the same search on March 17th, officers found a note found in a drawer headlined ‘plan’.

Details in the note continued: “Give them alcohol with sleeping pills.

“Slit throat. I kill her. Dismember body. Place pieces in bin bags, bury bags 7ft underground, bones including.

“Get her to go to Linear park, go to the hidden spot near the bridge I usually go to. Someone jumps out and restrains her (plan B). I kill her.”

During the search, police also found a computer tablet and a black notebook.

Cheshire Police

Jurors heard that written in the notebook was the word ‘anarchy’ on one page, and on another there was a list of ‘what is right and wrong’. Another page had a ‘spider diagram’ with ‘good and ‘evil’ in the middle.

The ‘legs’ of the diagram lead to the words ‘forgiveness, justice, morality, good, suffering, evil, sin and free will’, the court heard.

On another page there were the words ‘Valentine’s gifts’ and on another the words ‘revision HW’. Prosecutor Cheryl Mottram said: “Homework, perhaps.”

Written on another page were the words ‘types of serial killers’, with a list under the heading.

Brianna Ghey / Go Fund Me

Words underneath included ‘organised and disorganised’, ‘mass murder’, ‘psychotic’, ‘organised crime’ and ‘copy cat’. On another page were the words ‘films’, and ‘faves’.

Another page was headed with ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ and then a ‘list of characteristics’. There were also notes about ‘John Wayne Gacy’, the ‘killer clown’.

The notebook also had written inside it a note which read ‘potential threats’ and ‘people that need to go’.

Another page had Boy Y’s name on it followed by a ‘list of qualities or attributes’. Underneath was written the words ‘trustworthy, funny, sociopath, good sense of humour, very very smart, genius level and not sociable’. 

Mikey / Flickr

Officers also recovered a black purse inside a ‘cubby hole’ with a handwritten note inside.

The note read: “Friday 11th November, attitudes to forgiveness.” Jurors were told the note contained two names, including Gee Walker.

“Forgives her son Anthony’s killer,” it read. And continued: “Julie Nicholson, who could not forgive the terrorists who killed her daughter Jenny.”

Three handwritten notes were also found on the floor of the room. One read ‘serial killer facts’, with a ‘list of facts relating to serial killers’ including ‘killing themselves in police custody can be a final act of control’, ‘hedonism’ and ‘power and control orientated’.

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Other notes made were ‘cruelty to animals’, ‘bed wetting past age of five’, ‘USA has the most serial killers’, ‘lack of empathy for others’ and ‘can be superficially charming’.

One note read ‘Dr Harold Frederick Shipman, aka Dr Death’, followed by the words ‘classification, serial killer’.

And jurors were told there was also a note in relation to ‘Richard Ramirez, or the ‘Night Stalker’.

The trial, which began on November 27th at Manchester Crown Court, continues.

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