Finalist who ran a drug empire from his uni house jailed for four years
A group of 10 Leeds Beckett boys were convicted
A Leeds Beckett finalist has been jailed for four years for running a drug dealing empire from his uni house.
Kingpin Liam Reynolds, 21, who studied International Business at Leeds Beckett, used the internet black market to to import and sell drugs to fellow students.
He led a host of friends from Beckett in running his business, peddling LSD, ecstasy and cannabis using Silk Road.
None of the other nine convicted have been jailed – having all received suspended sentences.
Reynolds controlled his operation from a student house in Headingley Mount where other members of the group also lived.
While Reynolds was jailed for four years, Nicholas O’Brien, 21, Jordan Crowney, 21, George Cosgrove, 22, Daniel Bernard, 21, Paul Simms, 21, Thomas Cox, 21, Connor Woods, 20, Joseph Wilson, 21, and Stephen Coleman, 21, were all given suspended sentences for their part in the drug ring – meaning they escaped prison time.
They all have to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, with varying suspended sentences of two years.
Leeds student Fure Denado – who lived with Joseph Wilson and Jordan Crowney – had no idea it was going on.
The 21-year-old told The Tab: “They were great guys. I knew Joe ever since I started at Leeds. I didn’t go out with them much but they were fairly normal. There were no crazy nights, nothing insane ever happened.
“I never expected them to be dealing drugs.
I knew that joe was going to court but never to what extent. I’ve never heard of anyone even using bitcoin.
“I don’t know what to say. I genuinely can’t believe it.”
One friend who knows Joseph from home said:, 21, knew Joseph Wilson from home. He told The Tab: “Joe barely did anything. One day police raided the whole house and took everyone’s laptops and phone.”
The group would order consignments of MDMA, LSD, and cannabis from international suppliers before peddling them to students, using the now defunct Silk Road website.
They even used Bitcoin as payment to stay anonymous.
Reynolds also sent texts messages with references to Walter White.
The police, after receiving information that the group were involved in drugs, seized a large parcel of cannabis and other evidence following a thorough investigation by Leeds detectives.
Text messages with overt references to drug transactions were found alongside photos of members of the group posing with drugs and cash.
Following a lengthy investigation, 10 members of the group were charged with a range of offences in May last year which included conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and conspiracy to import controlled drugs.
Judge James Spencer, QC, told the students: “You no doubt went to university with your ambitions very high, and your self assessment very high, and you think you know everything and you think you can do everything without any responsibility.
“It may come as a shock to you that the law applies equally to you as everybody else.”
Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, who heads the Leeds district’s specialized drugs team, Operation Quartz and Proceeds of Crime Act team, said: “This was a very sophisticated and highly organised criminal enterprise that for a sustained period of time imported substantial quantities of controlled drugs into the UK and supplied them in the city’s student community.
“One of parents’ worst fears when their children go away to university is that they will come into contact with controlled drugs. Here was a group of young men who were exploiting their positions within that student community to supply other students with access to a range of substances that were bought from abroad and could contain anything.
“These men were studying at university and had opportunities open to them that many others don’t but instead of putting their efforts into their legitimate academic endeavours they chose to operate a criminal trade in drugs.”
The Beckett students were suspended after criminal proceedings begun last year and are the university are currently deciding whether they will be allowed to return.
Professor Paul Smith, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strategic Development at Leeds Beckett University, said: “A number of students were suspended from attending our university in 2014, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.
“We continue to work closely with West Yorkshire Police to support any investigations and protect our university community from the illegal possession, supply and use of drugs.
“The seriousness of the offences committed by these students is reflected in the sentences handed down by the Court and will be reflected in the severity of any sanctions applied through our University’s student disciplinary procedure.”
10 students at Leeds Crown Court yesterday were sentenced after entering guilty pleas.
Liam Reynolds, 21, convicted of conspiracy to import ecstasy, conspiracy to import LSD, conspiracy to import cannabis, conspiracy to supply ecstasy, conspiracy to supply LSD, conspiracy to supply cannabis and money landering. He was jailed for four years.
Daniel Bernard, 21, of Cross Chancellor Street, Woodhouse, convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis, conspiracy to supply ecstasy and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Nicholas O’Brien, 21, of Ashville Terrace, Hyde Park, convicted of conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
Jordan Crowney, 21, of Headingley Mount, convicted of conspiracy to import ecstasy, conspiracy to import cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
George Cosgrove, 22, of Tyler Row, Oxford, convicted of conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
Connor Woods, 20, of Cross Chancellor Street, Woodhouse, convicted of conspiracy to import ecstasy and conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
They were all given two-year jail terms, suspended for two years, and 200 hours unpaid work.
Paul Simms, 21, of Headingley Mount, convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis, conspiracy to supply cannabis and money laundering.
Thomas Cox, 21, of Headingley Mount, convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Stephen Coleman, 21, of Drummond Avenue, Leeds, convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
They were given 18-month prison terms, suspended for two years and told to do 200 hours unpaid work.
Joseph Wilson, 21, of Norwood Terrace, Leeds, was convicted of money laundering and given eight months, suspended for two years, plus 200 hours unpaid work.