Businessmen cleared in Nationwide Heroin Conspiracy
On Friday 17 March 2017 at the Liverpool Crown Court the CPS formally offered no evidence against Lee Battle, a Liverpool-based businessman and entrepreneur represented by Jonathan Laidlaw QC and Christopher Ware, in a case of alleged involvement in a conspiracy to supply heroin. The decision of the Crown comes just weeks after the acquittal of Brian Thompson, the Uncle of Mr Battle, represented by Orlando Pownall QC and Paul Renteurs.
The conspiracy, of which it was alleged Mr Battle and Mr Thompson were a part, was based in Liverpool, and concerned the supply of heroin on a massive scale to dealers in Scotland, Wales and the South West of England. 24 defendants have been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, involvement in the conspiracy. Mr Battle and Mr Thompson were last tried in relation to these allegations in April 2016, but the jury on that occasion were not able to reach a verdict. Since then, the decision was taken, and an application successfully made, to have the defendants severed. It was in those circumstances that Mr Thompson’s trial began in February 2017.
The conspiracy was said to have lasted over a year. Both Mr Battle and Mr Thompson were alleged to have been involved throughout that period. However, a considerable part of the Crown’s case focused on a specific alleged handover of heroin by Mr Thompson in January 2015. The Crown’s case was, in effect, that Mr Thompson, with the assistance of Mr Battle, handed over high purity heroin, provided by individuals at the head of the conspiracy, to a group of men known as the ‘Lidderdale Three’. The Lidderdale Three are known to have adulterated and shipped out around 60 kilograms of heroin to other conspirators across the country. Between them the Lidderdale Three will serve sentences of over 24 years’ imprisonment.