A mother of one became an ‘intercity’ courier for a county lines drugs gang – by posing as a rail commuter heading to work during the UK lockdown.
Georgia Leigh, 23, repeatedly made 142 mile round trips by train up to twice a day after mobsters she was working for struck a deal for heroin and cocaine to be smuggled from Manchester to York.
Between May and June last year, Leigh, from Chadderton, near Oldham, posed as a commuter to get round Covid-19 restrictions and hop on the Trans Pennine Express train during the evening peak time.
Appearing at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, on Thursday, October 14, Leigh was locked up for four years and two months after she admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and conveying prohibited articles into a prison.
Leigh’s friend, Nicole Crighton, 22, of Oldham, accompanied her on some of those train journeys and received a two year suspended sentence.
Georgia Leigh, 23, of Chadderton, near Oldham, has been jailed for over four years after smuggling class A drugs over the Pennines
Mother-of one Leigh was recruited as a courier for a county lines drugs gang; and posed as a commuter to carry out the drop-offs
She would travel 71 miles for typically one hour 20 minutes by rail then spend as little as ten minutes making her drop in the North Yorkshire tourist city before returning on the next train home.
Leigh was detained after a major police operation into the so-called ‘Junior line’ which ran from the ‘Red to White Rose’ counties.
Inquiries revealed she had been previously caught smuggling ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis plus mobile phones into a prison on behalf of her abusive former boyfriend.
Police discovered two schoolboys aged 15 and 17 had been recruited in the county lines racket after agreeing to be paid around £150 a day to deliver the drugs.
Jack Smedley, 24, of Moston, Manchester, who organised the drugs operation, was jailed for four and a half years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
The police operation took place after detectives began investigating the so-called ‘Junior Line’ a Manchester-based phone drugs hotline activated on April 19, 2020, registered in a fictitious name and address which sent out mass text messages to the phones of likely or known drug users in York.
Leigh was accompanied on some of her journeys by her friend Nicole Crighton, 22, of Oldham, who received a two year suspended sentence
The court heard that around 4,000 messages were sent out to known drug users in York, advertising the sale of ‘golf ball packages’ of cocaine and heroin in £10 wraps.
Leigh was tasked with catching a Trans Pennine train from Manchester Victoria to York railway station to deliver the drugs.
She would meet a contact in York to hand over the cocaine and heroin before returning to Manchester with cash from the deal. During the racket, Leigh would catch trains with her friend Nicole Crighton.
Deborah Smithies prosecuting said: ‘Mass texts were sent to a list of customers in York, advertising drugs for sale.
‘The drugs were moved to York, and the cash proceeds were brought back to Manchester.’
Jack Smedley, 24, of Moston, Manchester who organised the drugs operation was jailed for four and a half years
The court was told that once in York, Leigh would often be there for just a short period of time – on one occasion just ten minutes – before travelling back to Manchester.
Leigh was arrested the following October and her phone was examined, which showed her sending text messages to a contact known as ‘The Nerd’ saying: ‘Listen if I pay you 50 pound will you drive somewhere with me x?’
She later denied leaving the Greater Manchester area at all during that time period and denied knowing anybody in York.
But Leigh then admitted travelling to York with an Asian male she had met, because they were both ‘on crack’. She initially said she went there once or twice to buy drugs for their personal use.
Two other members of the drugs ring, Simon Potter and Daniel Halford, were both jailed for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
She subsequently confessed to making journeys to and from York on a daily basis, saying her £60 a time return train fare was paid for.
Sentencing Judge John Potter said: ‘The conspiracies were well organised and planned and the circumstances are depressingly familiar.
‘Leigh performed a vital role in the operation, and without her couriering the drugs, the operation would not have been viable.’