Man caught with £160k worth of cocaine in Torquay

Officers found drugs with a street value of £160k Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Two men have been sentenced after police found £160k worth of cocaine and £17k in cash in Torquay.

John-Paul Austin and Marcus Ayres were caught as part of a joint operation by Devon and Cornwall and Merseyside police forces tackling county lines drug dealing.

On June 15, police received information that a black Renault Clio travelling on Riviera Way in Torquay was linked to drug dealing.

Officers stopped the car, which was being driven by Austin, on Teignmouth Road and he told them there was cocaine in the car.

The drugs were wrapped up in brown tape with the word 'Prada' written on the packages.

Ayres was then seen walking towards the car but ran away on foot after spotting police.

Merseyside Police then launched a drone and saw a man matching his description leaving a wooded area and loitering near the main road. Drone operators directed officers on the ground to his location and Ayres was found and arrested.

During a search of the area, police found a backpack containing around £17,000 in cash which Ayres had dumped while running from officers.

The £17,000 cash seized by Devon and Cornwall Police. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

The two men were taken into custody and the car, drugs and cash were seized. The drugs were later tested and confirmed to be cocaine with a street value of up to £160,000.

Austin, 42 and of Prescott Road, admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was jailed for three years and six months.

Ayres, 26 and of Fir Walk in Torquay, admitted supplying cocaine and possessing criminal property. He was given a two-year suspended sentence and 240 hours of community service.

Austin told officers there was cocaine in the backseat after he was asked if there was anything illegal in the vehicle. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Both men were sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on Friday 7 October.

Detective Inspector Jo Devonshire said: “Drug use and associated crime have a detrimental impact on communities which cannot be underestimated and will not be tolerated."

Merseyside Police Inspector Darren Wallace added: “This is a good result which shows once again the value of working closely with other forces in targeting county lines dealers.

“Criminals do not operate exclusively within local or regional borders, nor do they give any thought to the harm they cause in our communities, including those exploited to further the criminal gain."