A COURIER has been found guilty of driving a consignment of cannabis to Devon on behalf of a major drugs gang that operated across large areas of East and Mid Devon.
Scott Bayliss was recruited by the organised crime group, which used the trade name South Coast, after the father of gang co-leader Jamie Chapman was stopped by police after making 47 different round trips to London.
Some of the drug supply was co-ordinated by a large scale dealer from his base in Spain and its leaders organised deliveries to Devon on their own chat group on the messaging app Signal.
Bayliss only made one trip to pick up cannabis but others within the conspiracy including the head of the Devon operation Philip Fallows were also dealing in cocaine, Exeter Crown Court was told.
The cannabis was distributed through a network of lower level dealers based in Crediton, Exmouth, Ottery St Mary, Sidmouth, and Exeter in Devon and Camelford in Cornwall. The total amount involved amounted to kilograms of the drug.
The drugs were brought from Enfield, North London, to Philip Fallows home in Sidmouth over 18 months between June 2021 until police broke up the operation in December 2022.
The largest seizure was at a house in Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth, where police found ten bars of cannabis hidden behind a sink, six bags in a bedroom, and £1,610 cash. The drugs had a street value of more than £13,000.
Cannabis weighing 1.7 kilograms worth £5,040 were found at a linked address, some of which had been pressed and marked with an EA7 stamp which looked like the Armani logo. Another £10,840 cash was also seized.
Fallows also had a house at Tidwell Close, Budleigh Salterton where just under a kilogram of cannabis was found. Checks on his bank account showed £54,674 credits over the previous two years.
The Camelford operation was run from two neighbouring houses in Willowbank where £6,340 cash and £1,970 worth of cannabis were seized by police.
Exeter Crown Court heard that eleven people have admitted taking part in a 15-month conspiracy to supply cannabis and one of being concerned in supply.
Scott Bayliss, aged 44, of Albion Street, Exmouth, denied conspiracy to supply cannabis but was found guilty. He chose not to give evidence but his case was that he did not realise the true purpose of his trip to London.
He was convicted after the prosecution showed the jury texts in which he was being lined up to make a second trip a few days later and which implied he was aware of what was going on.
Judge David Evans ordered a probation pre-sentence report and released Bayliss on bail. He then told the jury that some of the others within the conspiracy had also admitted supplying cocaine.
He said all the defendants would be sentenced over two days later this year.
During the trial, Mr Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said Bayliss’s role was to be the driver on a single round trip to North London on May 30, 2022.
Mr Ticehurst said the leaders of the conspiracy were Philip Fallows, who was based in Sidmouth and London, and Jamie Chapman, who was based in Hertfordshire.
Phone messages showed they were sourcing cannabis from contacts they knew as Big J and Harry, who appeared to be based in Spain. Phone and numberplate tracking records showed a large number of journeys to and from London.
Mr Ticehurst said: “Philip Fallows and Jamie Chapman organised the supply of cannabis from London to Devon and Cornwall and supplied it to others and sold it on to people wishing to purchase it.
“The money generated was taken back to London to pay for the drugs. Fallows and Chapman discussed matters extensively in messages which show they were sourcing the cannabis from Harry and Big J.
“They used a chat group on Signal which was called South Coast and in the discussions it is clear arrangements were made to supply cannabis to Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group were Philip Fallows, Jamie Chapman and Harry, who lived in Spain but was able to coordinate the supply of drugs from London to Devon.
“On June 30, 2022 Scott Bayliss travelled to London with a man called Matthew Harris. We say the purpose was to collect cannabis or to take cash back there. We say they agreed to drive to London and that Bayliss knew the trip involved cannabis and he would have been aware it was about drugs.
“One of those who has pleaded guilty is Paul Chapman who is the father of Jamie Chapman and was the regular driver between June 6, 2021 and May 16, 2022, making 47 trips.
“On May 16, 2022, he was stopped by the police on the drive of his home and as a result he was no longer able to make the trips.
“They had lost their driver and needed an alternative. We say Harris was aware that Philip Fallows was involved. There were 884 calls or messages between them. We say he arranged for Bayliss to be the alternative driver.
The jury have been told that the ten people who have admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis are:
Philip Fallows, aged 36, of Cotmaton Road, Sidmouth.
Jamie Chapman, aged 33, of Old North Road, Hertfordshire.
Matthew Harris, aged 55, of Albion Street, Exmouth.
George Fallows, aged 40, of Mill Street, Ottery St Mary.
Damien Carnell, aged 37, of Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth.
Paul Chapman, aged 67, of South Lawn, Sidford.
Gary Hedgeland, aged 31, of Sunny Hill, Ottery St Mary.
Jonathan Keene, aged 33, of Willow Walk, Crediton.
Tia Pryor-Howard, aged 24, of Vaughan Road, Exeter.
Matthew Topham, aged 30, of Willowbank, Camelford.
Jack Culip, aged 24, of Willowbank, Camelford.
Zoe Mardon, aged 47, of Waters Road, Salisbury, has admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.