County lines couple who exploited a 13-year-old boy to run drugs jailed for 12 years – London
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A “callous” couple who used a 13-year-old boy to run heroin and crack cocaine from London to Kent have been jailed for a combined 12 years following a British Transport Police (BTP) investigation.
Devon McCallum, 28, and of Water Gardens Square, London, appeared at Inner London Crown court where he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
Nardia Seedat, 27, also of Water Gardens Square, London, appeared at the same court and pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and two counts of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.
Following a two-week trial at Inner London Crown Court ending on 26 May 2022, a jury found McCallum and Seedat guilty on all counts.
They returned to court on 21 October where a judge sentenced McCallum to nine years imprisonment, and Seedat to three years six months.
On 15 September 2020, BTP officers stopped – and engaged with – a 13-year-old boy at Rochester railway station.
He was searched and found to be in possession of £1,500 in cash and a Samsung phone before being arrested and conveyed to police custody.
Suspecting he was being exploited in county lines activity, officers referred him into the national referral mechanism for safeguarding and launched an investigation into his controllers.
Data downloaded from the child’s phone showed multiple calls and texts from a contact saved as “SYK” and a text from another number directing the child to take the 4.55pm train from Deptford to Rochester on the day of his arrest.
Communication data from cell sites found the two numbers were in constant contact with the 13-year-old’s phone throughout September as he travelled between London and Kent.
Detectives were able to link McCallum, also known as “SYKES”, to the “SYK” number and the second number to Seedat.
As the child ferried between London and Kent, broadcast messages were being sent from the ‘REM’ county line, controlled by McCallum, to contacts in Medway. The messages offered the sale of heroin and crack cocaine and read, “back on got both – REM”.
Cell site data of the phone numbers revealed the pair were staying at an address in Surrey Quays, London.
At the time McCallum was on an electronic tag curfew, requiring him to be at the address between the hours of 9pm and 7am.
On the morning of 25 September 2020, a warrant was executed at the property where McCallum and Seedat were discovered asleep on two sofas that had been pushed together to form a bed.
Three mobile phones, including the two handsets used to contact the child, were seized from the address and the pair were arrested.
Seedat was searched at police custody and officers found she had concealed 14 wraps of heroin and one wrap of crack cocaine.
In interview McCallum attempted to distance himself from the Surrey Quays address by claiming his friend let him stay there and that “lots of people come and go”.
Seedat responded “no comment” to all questions put to her in interview but just before its conclusion stated, “I’m not involved in trafficking”.
Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams, BTP’s County Lines Taskforce lead, said: “Sadly, it is not uncommon for drug suppliers to use children to transport drugs on the railway.
“The 13-year-old boy my team successfully safeguarded is the youngest we’ve encountered being exploited – we routinely come across teenagers in our work.
“McCallum and Seedat are a callous pair of criminals who controlled a child for their own financial gain. I hope their adequately strong sentences serve as a stark warning to offenders – we will catch you and put you behind bars.
“If you spot the signs of child exploitation on the railway network, I urge you to report it to us by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40. No report is too small or too trivial.”