The press release issued by the Attorney General’s Office on 13 November 2023.
Two brothers who recruited vulnerable young people to supply crack cocaine and heroin worth more than £100,000 in Shropshire have been ordered to serve longer in prison after their sentence was strengthened by the Court of Appeal.
James Mason, 33 and his brother Joshua, 25 from Liverpool were part of an organised crime gang which operated the County Line, called the Boris Line from between Merseyside and Oswestry, a market town in Shropshire, between July 2018 and February 2020.
County Lines typically involves using vulnerable children and young adults to supply drugs as a form of forced or compulsory labour. Nine young people were recruited as runners to supply crack and heroin for the gang – one was just 14 – and many were known to Children’s Services.
The Boris Line was controlled by their associate – Adam McCardle – but both brothers took an active role travelling between the two locations to supply drugs and sending regular messages to hundreds of drug users in Oswestry offering their products.
When the home of James Mason was raided in July 2019, Police found large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine as well as drug paraphernalia and £10,000 in cash. They also found a black Samsung phone, which, turned out to be the Boris Line telephone.
Both brothers pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine and heroin but were put on trial for conspiracy to require a person to commit forced or compulsory labour.
In August this year, James Mason was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and Joshua was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
On Thursday 9 November, the Court of Appeal increased the sentence for both brothers after the Solicitor General referred them under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.
Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC MP said:
There is no doubt that class A drug use has a devastating impact on local communities and the young age of some of the people recruited to act as runners for this gang makes this case even more appalling.
Thankfully, the court recognised the damage caused by these brothers and they have been ordered to spend longer in jail. I hope this case serves as a strong warning that those responsible for distributing hard drugs on our streets will be punished.
James Mason’s sentence was increased to a total of 10 years imprisonment and Josh Mason’s sentence was increased to a total of eight years imprisonment.