A conspiracy bringing kilograms of cocaine into Bognor Regis and Eastbourne has led to three criminals being put behind bars.
Heavily convicted drug dealer Aldo Oringa played a ‘leading role’ in the Class A drug operation, with accomplices Donna Faulkner and Elliott Best also involved.
Huge quantities of cocaine were brought to Sussex from Bexleyheath in London – initially to Bognor but later to Eastbourne, where Oringa was caught in a police raid.
While in Lewes Prison on remand he sent text messages trying to get others to take the blame for him, offering to pay £500.
Serving prisoner Oringa, 33, previously of Thorncroft Road in Littlehampton, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply (cocaine) and sending texts from within a prison, and was convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine this month alongside the others and also of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Newlywed mum Faulkner, 48, of Garland Square in Tangmere, Chichester, was convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
Best, who was just 19 at the time of his arrest and is now 21, is of Windsor Drive in Rustington. He was also convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
All three appeared at Hove Crown Court today for sentencing.
Flat rented out under the alias of The Hulk
The three were involved in a sophisticated operation that saw large quantities of cocaine brought down from London to the south coast in 2017, the court heard.
In June and July that year police stopped vehicles on the Sussex to Bexleyheath route, seizing almost 1.25kg of cocaine.
Later that year, on October 6, police raided a flat in Meads road in Eastbourne just after 6pm.
Prosecutor Peter Walsh said: “That address was being rented by the defendant Also Oringa using the name Bruce Banner."
Bruce Banner is the real name of The Hulk in the Marvel comics universe.
Police chase defendant and recover 820g of cocaine
“As the police arrived at the premises the defendant ran, escaping out of a window.”
Officers chased and caught him, seizing 820g of cocaine in the process, the court heard.
“Whilst he was in prison at Lewes he began arranging for [another man] to take responsibility for that cocaine.”
Oringa's family members killed by rebels in Uganda
Oringa has a lengthy offending history, including being jailed for 56 months for 11 offences of Class A drug supply in 2012.
His defence barrister Andreas O’Shea said that Oringa is ‘fully aware’ of the seriousness of the situation.
He told the court about Oringa’s tough upbringing in Uganda, where his family members were killed by rebels and how he followed his father to the UK as a refugee.
Faulkner and Best's lesser roles in the supply
Isabelle Gillard, representing Faulkner, said that her client was acting out of a need to feed a cocaine addiction.
“There is no evidence otherwise of that financial benefit.
“It is a very low level role that the jury has found that she knowingly played. It is a significant mitigating factor that she herself was addicted to the drug concerned in the conspiracy.”
She said newlywed Faulkner has a ‘vulnerable personality’ and her background history ‘that leads to her being vulnerable and persuadable’.
William Saunders spoke on behalf of 21-year-old Elliot Best, saying that he found out that Faulkner was about to lose her driving licence and offered to help out.
“Had he known the enormity of what was going on he probably would have taken a different path.
“But he did what he did and has now to face the consequences.”
He cited Best’s previous good character, ‘extraordinary naivety’ and asked for the minimum possible prison sentence.
Judge: The evidence was overwhelming
Judge David Rennie, sentencing the three defendants, said: “You all decided to deny these offences in the face of what I regard as overwhelming evidence.
“You Mr Oringa are in a very different situation from the others because of your previous convictions of high relevance.”
He described Oringa’s criminal record as ‘deeply concerning’.
“The evidence makes it especially clear that multiple trips up and down to London were for the purpose of bringing large quantities of cocaine to the south coast.”
Judge Rennie said that although police only stopped vehicles on two occasions, the other trips were also being used to transport drugs.
“The supply of Class A drugs is a vile trade. Some people lose their lives and others have their lives destroyed.
“All of that misery so that some people can make money. That is why only long sentences can be justified.”
Judge Rennie also paused to commend the police officers who led the investigation.
Oringa was jailed for 19 years.
Faulkner was jailed for four years.
Best was jailed for three years.