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#Encrochat Man from Melling sentenced to 20 years in prison for drugs supply

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Darren Ablett, 40, of Waddicar Lane, Melling, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs following a six day trial at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday 9 August.

Detectives from Merseyside Police suspected that Ablett was using the Encrochat handles ‘honestmallet’ and ‘ivyhound’ and he was arrested in June 2021.

When officers attended his home to make the arrest, Ablett attempted to escape via a skylight window and then tried to hide his mobile phone on the roof.

He denied the offences but following a trial, a jury only took around 60 minutes to unanimously find him guilty.

Detective Sergeant James Boardman said: “We were able to identify Ablett as being the user of the handles ‘Honestmallet’ and ‘Ivyhound’ after he used the phone to message others about incidents personal to him. This included sending pictures of a vehicle he had previously driven and another picture showing the inside of his home.

“Ablett’s Encrochat messages clearly revealed his leading involvement in drug conspiracies that could have caused suffering to families and residents in our community.”

It was revealed during the trial that during the Encrochat capture period in spring 2020, Ablett played a leading role in the conspiracy to supply 27.5kg of cocaine, along with the users of other Encrochat handles such as ‘acidchest’ and ‘atomicmantis’.

The user of ‘acidchest’ was found to be Craig Gallagher, 36, of Inchape Road, Liverpool, who was jailed earlier this month for 24 years following an investigation by the National Crime Agency.

DS Boardman added: “We know the destruction that drug supply causes and Merseyside Police remains relentless in our pursuit of these criminals and to bring down serious and organised criminal groups.

“Ablett, like many offenders before him, thought he was hiding behind a secure communications system. Instead, he collected damning evidence of his own drug supply and will face a long spell in prison.

"This case should serve as a reminder of the strength of evidence that Operation Venetic can provide, and that if found guilty at trial you can expect a lengthy custodial sentence."

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