A father who started working for an alleged drug lord known as ‘Big Harry Potter’ after falling into financial trouble has been locked up.
John Heald, 34, was still working his day job while transporting drugs and cash for a criminal gang.
Law enforcement’s hacking of EncroChat, a secret encrypted phone network known as WhatsApp to criminals, turned out to be his undoing and the father-of-two has now been jailed.
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It was revealed that he was using an EncroChat device with the handle ‘Numbkiller’.
Heald quickly became “neck deep” in the gang, after suffering financial problems following a cocaine addiction.
Prosecutors allege that a man named in court as Terry Robinson of Salford was the boss of the gang.
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He is on the run and is wanted by the police.
Robinson had the EncroChat handle ‘Big Harry Potter’.
Manchester Crown Court heard that the gang trafficked “very large quantities” of cocaine, cannabis and ketamine throughout Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
“The head of this group is a man named Terry Robinson,” prosecutor Neil Fryman said.
“Mr. Robinson is still at large, he is the handler of EncroChat Big Harry Potter.
“Mr. Robinson, or Big Harry Potter, was involved in buying and selling multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and cannabis, as well as arranging for their collection and movement.”
Fryman said Heald could be linked to 2.2 kilos of cocaine, more than a kilo of cannabis and 17 kilos of ketamine.
Heald was described as a “trusted lieutenant” of Big Harry Potter and was in almost daily contact with him.
A checklist retrieved from EncroChat, a money owed list, showed that more than £530,000 was owed to the gang.
Heald claimed that he was paid between £150 and £200 for each delivery he made.
When police raided his home, Heald was working and on a job, but was later arrested.
Officers seized £2,500 in cash, £5,170, high-value designer clothing and accessories worth around £7,000 and just under a kilo of cannabis.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, ketamine and cannabis and was jailed for seven years and three months.
His attorney, Mark Styles, said Heald, who had no prior convictions, had fallen from grace “in spectacular fashion.”
“He got into trouble with his own drug abuse,” he said.
“He was essentially used as a courier, carrying out management orders.
“He got involved and was quickly, essentially neck-deep in things.
“He was overwhelmed by what was going on, and it seems that others used it.
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“He feels like he has let his family down a lot, and he feels like he has let himself down a lot as well.”
Styles said Heald’s life showed “no obvious signs of luxury,” as his partner still worked as a care assistant.
In sentencing, Judge Timothy Smith said: “The conspiracy that you were involved in was part of what was an extensive supply chain for large amounts of cocaine, ketamine and cannabis throughout the Northwest.
“He was directly involved in the daily supply of drugs and the collection and delivery of money.”