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22 May 2017, 14:17
Nine charged with conspiring to fly drones with drugs and weapons into West Midland's jails.
Nine people have appeared in court charged with conspiring to use drones to fly drugs, weapons and other contraband into several UK jails.
It is alleged the co-conspirators supplied banned goods to inmates at Winson Green prison in Birmingham, as well as HMP Hewell, Worcestershire, HMP Stoke Heath, Shropshire, and HMP Featherstone, near Wolverhampton.
As well as using drones, the two women and seven men are also accused of throwing contraband over prison walls.
In all, they each face five counts of conspiring to supply prohibited items into prisons between July 2015 and January 2017.
Appearing at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on Monday were Craig Hickenbottom, 34, formerly of HMP Hewell, Lisa Hodgetts, 32, of Lye Cross Road in Oldbury, and Ashley Rollinson, 21, of Waiver Road, Brierley Hill, both West Midlands.
Also in court were John Quinn, 35, of Swancroft Road, Terry Leach, 19, of Wednesbury Oak Road, both Tipton, and Yvonne Hay, 41, of Bloxwich Road, Walsall, all in the West Midlands.
They appeared alongside Sanjay Patel, 37, of Bush Court, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and Francis Ward, 45, of Bloxwich Road, Walsall.
Another man, Artaf Hussain, 30, of Slater Street, Tipton, is separately charged with possession with intent to supply class A drugs, and five charges of conspiracy to supply contraband to jails.
The charges are so serious they can only be dealt with at the crown court in Birmingham, where the nine will appear on June 23 to enter pleas.
Two other alleged co-conspirators - John Hickenbottom, 50, formerly of HMP Hewell, and Mervyn Foster, 37, of High Street, Tipton - are due to appear before magistrates later this week.