A drugs kingpin, a rogue juror, his mother, and a one-legged mechanic have been jailed for attempting to fix a trial.
Boxing promoter Leslie Allen, 66, recruited a team of stooges to help him get off charges of having £150,000 of cannabis and cocaine and a pepper spray in 2018.
The plot “failed spectacularly” after other jurors in the Warwick Crown Court case became suspicious of juror Damien Drackley’s behaviour as they deliberated on verdicts, the court heard.
They reported him to the judge who went on to convict Allen without the jury and jail him for 13 years.
After a trial at the Old Bailey, Allen, Drackley, 37, Mark Walker, 57, who was known as “Walker the one-legged mechanic”, and Laurence “Del Boy” Hayden, 54, were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Drackley’s mother Lorraine Frisby, 56, from Birmingham, had admitted the charge and of soliciting the disclosure of jury deliberations from her son.
On Friday, Allen appeared at the Old Bailey by videolink from prison while Frisby, Drackley and Walker attended court in person where they were each handed jail sentences by Mr Justice Cavanagh.
“Leader” of the conspiracy, Allen, was handed five years to run consecutively to his drugs sentence.
“Naive and foolish” Drackley was given four years for his part in the plot and breaching jury rules, which he had admitted.
His mother Frisby who played a “pivotal” role received two years and three months, while Walker was given nine months in jail for his more “minor role”.
Hayden failed to attend his trial and has since been arrested in Spain under an extradition warrant, the court was told.
A sixth alleged conspirator Daniel Porter, from Birmingham, died before the trial and the court file was formally closed.
The court was told he had been “exploited” when he agreed to take the rap for Allen even though he had only recently been released from prison.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Cavanagh said it was “a complex, carefully planned and very cynical conspiracy” which “struck at the very heart of the criminal process”.
He said: “Jury service is probably the most important public service a member of the public will be called upon to do.
“The consequences, if faith in the jury system was lost by juror misconduct are too horrible to contemplate.
“Were it not for the good sense and vigilance of the jury, the conspiracy might have succeeded in its entirety.”
Previously, prosecutor Tony Badenoch KC said Allen, from Coventry, was a “major drugs wholesaler” with the means and motive to evade justice.
In 2016, a kilo of cocaine with a street value of £100,000 was seized from his Jaguar car, and £50,000 of cannabis stuffed in laundry bags was found at his house, as well as pepper spray in a desk drawer.
Ahead of his trial in November 2018, Drackley, from Nuneaton, was randomly selected to be juror number one.
He told his mother in Birmingham about the case within an hour and a half of the first day’s evidence.
She then acted as a go-between to broker a deal with Allen and middleman Walker for her son to receive £5,000 to fix the trial.
At the time Allen was on bail and persuaded Hayden and Porter to lie for him in court.
Hayden, from Coventry, appeared to give the game away by nodding and winking at Drackley as he walked to the witness box, to the puzzlement of other jurors.
Jurors heard a stream of incriminating communication with Frisby was accidentally recorded on Drackley’s mobile phone on a app he had set up and forgotten about.
Frisby told him: “Mr Allen said it makes him feel a bit better to know he’s got a face on the jury.”
When the jury went out, Drackley failed in an attempt to be voted in as foreman and proceeded to argue agressively to acquit Allen.
On the second day of deliberations, Drackley appeared to sulk as he maintained it was “not guilty, not guilty” and “nothing is going to change my mind”.
During the discussions, jurors became suspicious after the car assembly line operative and wheeler-dealer let slip that he knew the area where Allen lived.
Mitigating for Drackley, Stephen Bailey said his client had been immature, naive, and easily influenced by others, particularly his mother when he “should have said no”.
It was said on Frisby’s behalf that she was fully aware of the “disaster” she had brought on herself and others through her “short-lived and profound stupidly”.