A GANGSTER’S moll who helped her boyfriend to run a racket in which three 16 year old schoolboys were used as ”slaves” to deal drugs avoided jail by the “skin of her teeth.”
Georgia Burns, 22, agreed to repeatedly drive her boyfriend 100 miles from their homes in Manchester to Hull where one of the exploited teenagers was set up in a squalid flat.
During a callous text exchange with drugs boss Jamie Upton about one of the teenagers, Burns said: “You can tell this boy’s been living in a crackhead house, he stinks.”
Upton, 25, then responded, “Yeah he stinks don’t he hahahaha.”
Police busted the racket after placing the flat under surveillance and found Upton in an upstairs toilet trying flushing drugs down the toilet.
Officers seized heroin and crack from the flat worth £2295 plus £3,162 in cash.
The three boys who cannot be named were rescued and moved away from the Manchester area following the police operation nicknamed Marconi.
It emerged they had been dealing drugs for Upton in Oldham and Manchester over the course of up to a year.
Burns had driven Upton to Hull four times and made two trips with one of the boys.
Today at Bolton Crown Court, Burns, from Failsworth near Oldham and Upton of Newton Heath, Manchester admitted being concerned in the supply of crack and heroin between March 2020 and March 2021.
She was sentenced to two years jail suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work.
Upton who also pleaded guilty to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply was jailed for nine years and three months.
The court heard Dublin-born fitness instructor Upton became involved in four separate drugs lines between Hull and Manchester in 2020 to make ”easy money” after moving to the British mainland.
It is thought he ”bought” the so-called Hugo drug line from another mobster known only as David before checking out the flat in Hull.
He sent his predecessor a message saying: “I can make £3000 a month from this, I will be able to pay you back in literally a day” before telling Burns: ”It’s all settled.”
Later he booked himself and Burns into a hotel room before moving one of the 16-year olds into the flat to run the Hugo line.
He subsequently set up a second ‘Snickers’ drug line in Oldham run by another 16 year old lad.
Upton would be ferried around by Burns in her car as he believed drugs squad police were ”less likely” to pull over a woman driver.
One of the boys he recruited had been in and out of care.
At the time he was conscripted into the drugs racket he was doing well at school but his performance and attendance dropped off when he got involved with Upton.
In one text to Burns, Upton boasted: “I’ve sent the kids to go and get me a pizza. They get £150 a day, it doesn’t matter what I make them do. They are my joeys, I f..king pay them so they know where their bread’s buttered.”
Burns replied: “True if you pay them they can’t say no.”
A later message from him to her read: ”I’m not arsed about anything anymore. I shattered that guy in the car park earlier, I’ll get GBH if we get caught.”
Maria Brannan prosecuting said: ”Upton told Burns it was going well and Burns said, “I am glad it is going well and you’re making money. Why don’t you ask David for a lift down to Hull next time.”
But Upton responded: ”Fk David, he owes me £1300. Taking the f**g piss.”Burns told him, “I’ve put 600 miles on my car driving you,” to which he offers £200 to drive him again.”
Officers were alerted to the racket after one of the boys confided in his social worker.
The lad was said to be ”scared” and confessed: “I’m selling his stuff because he owes people money.”
The boy also told how an enforcer acting for Upton told him: “You’ve got nine sisters haven’t you, which one am I going to fk up?.”
Upton was bailed after the raid on the flat but was arrested at his home in March 2021 with officers seizing a .22 Colt rifle, 16 bullets, £10,000 worth of heroin and cocaine and 17 mobile phones.
Burns was arrested later. Both gave no comment in interview. All three boys did not assist the prosecution.
In mitigation for Burns, defence counsel Miss Katherine Pierpoint said: “She now appreciates what she got herself involved in was serious and knows that those who assist others help these kinds of operations take place. She knew there was a concern from Upton about being stopped which led to him wanting to get driven by a woman as they were less likely to be stopped.
“Although she never handled the drugs or dealt with any of the others accused, she did drive Upton from Hull to Manchester on two occasions. Although she was actively involved over that period of time it was contained to the trips.”
“She had just turned 19 at the time and she was not paid throughout those months. Only on one occasion was she given money for petrol. It is clear that she acted at his request throughout.
“She was not acting under duress and she should have and could have made different decisions but other messages taken from her phone show the relationship in a different light.
“One night before they both drove to Hull Upton asks her to drive him to which she is hesitant and refuses but in response he says, “you’re always driving to go to the sunbed.”
She said, ” That’s not fair, the sunbed is close” but he responded sarcastically, “Well thanks, I really appreciate your help.”
“Then the next day he messaged her saying: “There is something really going on with you, and if I am going out if you’re up to something. If you don’t see me tonight I am going to smash your car up.”
She says: “Why do you expect me to be friendly with you after what has happened. You threaten me all the time.” “He responded: ”Get in your car when you come home and come to see me, you got an hour.”
“She ended up driving him but sent messages to Upton telling him how the whole situation was making her stressed and how the seemingly constant trips had taken their toll on her.
She said, “It’s got to a point where I have just ended up feeling numb.”
“On another occasion Upton sent her three individual messages saying “Get. Here. Now.”
Miss Pierpoint added: “She met Upton when she was 16 and they were going out for a number of years. Throughout their relationship he controlled and manipulated her. This was not a girlfriend who liked the excitement of the criminal lifestyle.
”She was not emotionally strong and mature enough at the time. Everything, of course, was kept from her family at the time. It seems that she was under this spell of his during that time they were together. As of September 2020 she has cut off the relationship with him.
”She is a very different woman to the one she was back then.”
Sentencing Judge Martin Walsh said: ”Vulnerable youths or children are often used in so called county lines drug dealing because they enable others higher up the supply chain to distance themselves from the end users.
“They can also be easily controlled, manipulated and intimidated.
”The motivation was a selfish desire to make significant financial gain regardless of the damage done to others.”
The judge told Burns: ”You were fully aware of Upton’s involvement but I am prepared to accept you were in an unhealthy relationship with him in which you felt some degree of coercive control. You have escaped jail by the skin of your teeth.”
Kade Joyson, 28, of Crumpsall, Manchester a friend of Upton who temporarily took over running the drug line was jailed for eight years and three months. Pedro Begantim, 21, of Ashton-under-Lyne was given two years jail suspended for two years and 200 hours unpaid work whilst Edvard Volodkovic, 35, was locked up for seven days. All pleaded guilty to drugs charges.