Man who trafficked teens to Devon to sell drugs has jail term increased

Omorie Nixon. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

A drug dealer jailed after trafficking teenagers hundreds of miles to sell drugs has had his sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.

Omorie Nixon, 20, and Itman Ismail, 28, admitted three counts of human trafficking relating to four boys aged 15 and 16 between December 2019 and March 2020.

The couple hid heroin and crack cocaine inside teenagers' bodies before transporting them from London to Devon as part of a county lines operation.

Nixon was handed seven years and nine months in prison at Exeter Crown Court in January, after also admitting conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possessing a mobile phone in prison.

Ismail was sentenced to four years in prison at the same court.

Following a referral by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentence scheme, the Court of Appeal increased Nixon's sentence on Tuesday 30 March.

CCTV shows Ismail Ittman and Nixon Omorie hiring a car. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Paul Jarvis, for the Attorney General, argued Nixon had a "sophisticated criminal background" despite his young age.

The court was told Nixon had a history of offending, including possession of bladed articles, perverting the course of justice, handling stolen goods, and dangerous driving.

Nicholas Lewin, for Nixon, denied this offending was sophisticated but argued it was "typical of a young man who has lost his way in life".

Mr Lewin described the 20-year-old's "tragic and difficult" background as a victim of modern slavery and exploitation himself.

Daniel Murray, for Ismail, said the former care worker had been on the periphery of the offending and was "criminally naive".

The court heard Ismail was a deputy care manager providing supported accommodation for teenagers and young adults, and became Nixon's key worker in 2018. Their relationship began in 2019.

He said: "She had a career at the time where she did a lot of good. We would submit it is not an aggravating feature to have helped people for 10 years prior to the offence. She has fallen, and she has fallen very hard."

Lord Justice Bean, sitting with Mr Justice Goose and Judge Lynn Tayton, decided to increase Nixon's sentence to 10 years nine months.

The judges noted the seriousness of the offending as a county lines operation and the impact on the teenagers, three of whom were classed as high-risk missing children at the time.

The judges found Nixon's difficult upbringing had little impact on his sentence.

He continued: "He did indeed have an exceptionally difficult start in life and we are told he witnessed a stabbing in the family when he was only 14 and that he himself was exploited and abused.

"We also accept that he was not the mastermind of the drug conspiracy, plainly if he had been the sentence would have been much greater.

"Despite his troubled upbringing, there must be a time when credit for that begins to run out."

The Court of Appeal did not alter Ismail's sentence, as Lord Justice Bean said: "She was eight years older than Nixon and had been his care worker but as we have said there is no doubt that he was the driving force in this offence.

"We shall leave her sentence undisturbed," he concluded.