A drug dealer was jailed for stabbing a rival and leaving him bleeding to death on the streets in an attack which police said demonstrated the “absolutely ruthless” nature of the county’s borders.
David Lawal was found reeling along Brandon Road in Thetford on October 3, 2019. He died from a single stabbing.
Amrik Singh, 19, was jailed for three years and nine months after pleading guilty to manslaughter of the 25-year-old, with two additional years and three months for conspiring to supply Class A drugs.
This followed a massive two-year police investigation in which they examined 2,500 exhibits, 500 hours of CCTV footage and 515 witness statements. They also downloaded data from 90 communication devices.
They discovered that Mr Lawal, of Greater London, was selling drugs on the streets of Thetford, where he was seen as a “popular” and sympathetic dealer by his customers. Running what was called the “Baller” line, he would drive crack and heroin from London to the market town, selling them himself for Â£ 15 a time.
But another “Frankie” line – which included Singh as well as dealers Elie Saba, Iddi Zito, Lisa Desousa and Claudia Annius – operated in the same area and had offers of Â£ 5.
The rivals made contact with each other at the Blaydon Bridge in Thetford on October 3, 2019. Police officers found members of the public providing first aid to Mr Lawal at Brandon Road just after 7 p.m. and he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Det Ch Insp Phill Gray, who led the police investigation, said those working in county line operations had a “significant contempt for life.”
“We must never forget that the county drug operations are absolutely ruthless and, in this case, deadly,” he said. “They put profit before people and don’t care who they think are unnecessary.”
The detective said Mr Lawal’s family had to come to terms with the discovery of how he had lived his life, adding: “He didn’t deserve his life to end this way.”
Tribute to the family
Albert Lawal, David Lawal’s father, said he had forgiven his son’s murderers, but his family hoped their sentences “would help these people think about what they have done.”
He added: âIn my Nigerian culture, David was next behind me to be the head of our family andâ the man of the house. âHis life was so short. It left a huge void within the community. family and it can never be replaced.
âWhen we heard the terrible news, we were devastated. My wife, David’s mother, collapsed on hearing the news. His siblings are lost without him now that he was taken from them too soon. “
The 25-year-old had recently started an organic soap business and his family believed he foresaw “a great future,” Lawal said. “We were so surprised that he mixed with these kinds of people,” he added.
Mr Lawal said his wife is heartbroken and “doesn’t know how she will live without her son” while his sisters Hannah and Joan have to come to terms with whatever experiences they are going to miss with their brother.
“My daughter Hannah has suffered because she can no longer work as a youth worker, as she finds it difficult to remain objective now that she is suffering from the effects of knife crime,” he added.
Singh, of Abbey Lane, in Greater London, was sentenced alongside his fellow workers on the âFrankieâ line on Friday.
Each admitted to conspiring to supply Class A drugs.
Saba, 35, of Goddards Way, Greater London, was jailed for eight years;
Zito, 19, of Essex Street, Greater London, was sentenced to three years and three months;
Desousa, 23, of Nightingale Road, Greater London, was jailed for three years and three months;
Annius, who police have discovered to be responsible for the cell phone customers use to place their orders, will be sentenced next year.
Norfolk Police launched Operation Gravity in 2016 to target county drug trafficking in towns and villages across the county and has resulted in the arrests of more than 650 people.
Operation Orochi – which is an offshoot of Operation Gravity – has closed 52 counties in the past two years. More than Â£ 155,000 in cash has been recovered and 45 convictions have seen those involved jailed for a total of over 177 years.