Nine sentenced after police discover drug 'marketplace' on Bath student's WhatsApp

George Buckney (26), George Hodder (23), Nathan Kelly (24) and Peter Bevan-Conejo (22). Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Nine people have been sentenced at Bristol Crown Court for their involvement in a 'drugs marketplace' where students sold class A drugs on WhatsApp.

In November 2017, almost 2,000 messages were found on 24-year-old Nathan Kelly's phone after police caught a drugs parcel addressed to his student accommodation in Bath.

A three-year investigation led to the sentencing of nine people on Friday (12 February), including Kelly who has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

All were charged with offences related to drugs possession and supply.

Speaking after the sentencing, investigating officer PC Patrick Gormley said: “These individuals had a life of opportunity ahead of them and instead chose to squander their university education by engaging in drug criminality and putting others’ lives at risk.

“The fact that several of the offenders received custodial sentences sends a clear message that, regardless of social standing or previous good character, serious drug crime will not be tolerated within any community.”

The nine people sentenced

  • Nathan Kelly, 24, Bath - two years and nine months in prison

  • Peter Beven-Conejo, 22, Bath - seven months, suspended for two years and 120 hours of unpaid community service

  • George Buckney, 26, Kingsdown - three years and nine months

  • Jonathan Burke, 26, Chiswick - three years

  • Savas Christoforidis, 25, Brussells - 18 months, suspended for two years, and £2670 fine

  • Luke Mattiussi, 32, Bathampton - 10 months, suspended for two years

  • George Hodder, 23, Bristol - three years and three months

  • Gabriel Sheldon, 22, Surrey - two years and ten months

  • Ian Williams, 23, East Riding of Yorkshire - two-year community order and 100 hours of unpaid community service

Richard Posner, Senior Crown Advocate of the CPS South West added: “What is clear from this police investigation is that the use of social media platforms such as WhatsApp as a managed market place to buy and sell drugs has become a depressing reality for a small but significant element of an otherwise hard working and aspirational student population.

"The sellers collaborated with each other to sell drugs and referrals were common. Advertising, incentives, raffles and loyalty rewards were used to boost sales.

"The Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with officers of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to bring these offenders to justice. The sentences imposed by the court today reflect the seriousness of the offences committed.”

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