Published: 00:00, 05 February 2007
| Updated: 10:21, 05 February 2007
A MAJOR drug dealer has been jailed for 12 years by a crown court judge after he was caught in an undercover police sting.
Andrew Gaffney, 31, of Longhill Avenue, Chatham, was linked to large amounts of hard and soft drugs which netted him thousands of pounds.
He claimed in court that he turned to dealing to raise money to obtain expensive treatment in the United States for his autistic son.
But the van driver was frequently seen behind the wheel of a Mercedes car and took luxury holidays in Thailand.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Gaffney was considered to be a “top-tier” dealer in the Medway Towns and “mid-tier” in the South East.
He was arrested in August last year, after a drugs squad operation codenamed Walrus, lasting several months.
Oliver Saxby said Gaffney would have made “significant amounts” of money from dealing but there was to be no financial enquiry. He said: “Officers are content that such money made has been spent.
“They are satisfied it is not hidden away.”
Gaffney admitted two charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply and asked for eight similar matters to be considered.
John Fitzgerald, defending, said Gaffney started dealing in drugs because he struggled to earn a living by “proper means”. The court head that Gaffney’s son Harry had been treated for autism.
Mr Fitzgerald said: “He was the subject of specialist funding from the NHS.
“Some £30,000 of tax payers’ money was spent for three years without any success at all in treating his condition.”
The father discovered an institute in Boston in the United States, where a seven-day course cost £14,000. This was money Mr Gaffney was never going to have, the court heard.
He turned to drug dealing and money used for the institute brought huge dividends for his son. Further visits cost £1,000 a day.
The lawyer said: “He has never used drugs in his life. This was a course of action to help his son.”
The operation to target drug suppliers began in 2005. In October, an officer known as Vinnie was offered £20 worth of cocaine by a man in Gillingham High Street.
Vinnie was driven somewhere else by a woman and went to a car, where Gaffney handed over the drug.
The officer later met Gaffney in a pub and told him he was a drug dealer, saying he only dealt in cocaine. He was paid £950 for an ounce of the drug. Gaffney was to also sell Vinnie amphetamine and tell him he could get substantial amounts of drugs for him.
On January 26, last year, Gaffney supplied 246g of amphetamine for £920 at a bar in Hoo. Four days later, he handed over 27.9g of cocaine for £1,050.
On July 24, Gaffney and a man called Andrew Dean were seen driving in convoy on the M25. Dean was stopped and two blocks of cocaine, with a total weight of 1.6kg was found hidden in a front airbag.
Mr Saxby said if the drug was sold as 1g deals, the value would be £80,000-160,000. Gaffney later accepted arranging delivery and supply of the cocaine. The blocks were destined for Newcastle.
On August 3, police received information about a large amount of cannabis being delivered to Newcastle.
Gaffney met a contact, who was later stopped by police in a van and found to have 900 blocks of the drug, weighing 236kg and worth about £675,000 if sold in smaller amounts.
The prosecutor said Gaffney was arrested five days later, while he was sitting in a Vauxhall Omega outside a pub in Rochester. He had more than £4,000 in his pockets.
In the dashboard were 39 packages of cocaine, 15 packages of heroin and two lumps of heroin worth a total of £9,580.