A BIRKENHEAD man and three others have been jailed after police seized the largest amount of heroin adulterant in the UK from an industrial unit in Wigan.

Richard McDonough, from Birkenhead, was put behind bars for conspiracy to supply heroin along with Marc Talbot and Paul Witter from Wigan and Joseph Manley of Liverpool at Bolton Crown Court on November 25.

All the men pleaded not guilty, with McDonough and Manley both claiming that they were told they were preparing a ‘sports drink’ for an un-named person.

Witter and Talbot claimed that McDonough had provided them with a false story, telling them that he was using their unit to run a ‘bio fuel’ business.

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Operation Trinket raid

The court heard that at around 2.30pm on Thursday, October 26, 2016, police were called by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to a unit at a trading estate off Worthington Way in Marus Bridge, Wigan.

Officers attended and spoke to Talbot who arrived at the scene in a grey Porsche and told officers that he worked at the property for Witter who was on holiday in Tenerife.

The unit was secured as a crime scene pending further investigation into the cause of the fire.

Paracetamol, caffeine and small bottles of food colouring were found inside - known to be used in the underworld and added to the class A drug heroin.

Large bags of white powder were also seized during the search.

Police discovered that approximately 375 kg of heroin adulterant was being produced at the unit.

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DNA and fingerprints belonging to Witter, McDonough, Talbot and Joseph Manley were all found at the site following forensic examination.

After the fire at the unit in Wigan, surveillance revealed that Witter, McDonough, Talbot and Manley were all in contact with each other in the hours immediately prior to, during, and following the incident.

Following these findings, an investigation was launched into the conspiracy to manufacture and supply class A drugs across Wigan and Merseyside.

It was by Friday, July 20, 2018 when police had enough evidence to execute eleven raids across Wigan and Merseyside.

Paracetamol, caffeine, and a large amount of brown powder totalling approximately 86kg, along with blender bottles, fabric gloves and other manufacturing equipment were amongst some of the items found in Manley’s detached garage and within the house.

Witter, McDonough, Manley, Talbot, were all arrested on the same day on suspicion of conspiring to manufacture and supply class A drugs.

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Manufacturing equipment found at the scene

All four were later charged with conspiracy to supply Heroin.

On Monday, November 25, McDonough, 52, was jailed for nine years; Talbot, 47, was sentenced to 10 years; Witter, 41 was jailed for 12 years; Manley, 53, was locked up for nine years at Bolton Crown Court.

Detective sergeant Simon Monks of the Wigan District’s Challenger Team said: “These men thought they were above the law, and some of them lived a lifestyle that they funded through manufacturing and supplying a shocking amount of class A drugs.

“The conviction and sentencing of these men today has prevented the distribution of industrial amounts of heroin reaching the streets of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and no doubt way beyond.

"These are amounts of heroin adulterant, which we have never seen the likes of before within any seizures previously in the UK.

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Machinery found at the unit

“I hope today’s sentencing serves as an example to those tempted by crime that we will pursue them, and makes clear the consequences that anybody who chooses a life of drug dealing will face.

“I would like to thank both the CPS for their continued support throughout this lengthy and complex case, and also the investigation team of Wigan Challenger - Organised Crime unit, for their tireless efforts.”