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Killer who masterminded vast heroin operation in Norfolk handed serious crime prevention order upon release in 2021

PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:50 25 April 2018

Liam Duffy and the haul of cash and heroin worth almost £250,000 seized by police from a series of raids in Norwich, along with a cash counting machine. The two dark square blocks are heroin with a street value of £100,000 each. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Liam Duffy and the haul of cash and heroin worth almost £250,000 seized by police from a series of raids in Norwich, along with a cash counting machine. The two dark square blocks are heroin with a street value of £100,000 each. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A convicted killer serving a life sentence who masterminded a £4.6m drugs operation from his prison cell which flooded Norfolk with heroin is due for release in three years time.

When Liam Duffy emerges from jail under licence, a judge has ordered he is put under “belt and braces” supervision for at least five years to protect the public from his risk of serious crime.

At Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday Judge Anthony Bate imposed a serious crime prevention order, to run from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2026.

It will restrict Duffy’s ownership of mobile phones, limits his access to cash, and prevents him from contacting criminal associates. He will not be allowed to travel outside the UK without permission.

Duffy, 37, is nine years into a 20-year sentence for his part in the revenge killing of a rival gang leader, Liam Smith, in 2006.

While he was serving time at HMP Buckley Hall, Rochdale, Duffy organised a multi-million pound drug-running operation between his home city of Liverpool and Norwich.

The conspiracy was uncovered when Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) recovered 2kg of heroin with an estimated street value of up to £200,000 when they pulled over a van in Norwich.

Judge Bate said the order would act as a safeguard in addition to the probation service enforcing licence conditions.

“You would hope under best practice the licence conditions would maintain the risk,” he said. “One doesn’t need to be worldly to know how hard pressed the probation service are, particularly in metropolitan areas. Unless there is some windfall it is unlikely to be much better in three years time.

“The defendant was able to exploit shortcomings in prison security and use mobile phones within prison to further his dishonest activities. Having observed him in the witness box he is a defendant of considerable intelligence and sophistication.

“The enforcement of this order will be a matter for the police - -a separate agency with separate resources to call upon.

“In a sense the prosecution wish to apply a certain belt through the serious crime prevention order in anticipation of the braces of the licence conditions.

“There are reasonable grounds for believing this order would protect the public by restricting or disrupting Liam Duffy’s risk of future involvement in serious organised crime.”

Drug operation led from prison while serving time for gang killing

Liam Duffy is serving a life sentence in Rochdale for his part in the revenge killing of a 19-year-old rival gang leader Liam Smith, a prominent member of the Norris Green-based Strand gang, who was shot dead outside Altcourse Prison in Fazakerley, Liverpool,

Duffy was convicted of manslaughter following a trial in 2007 and sentenced to 20 years with a minimum term of 10 years, following the killing which was part of an ongoing feud between the Strand gang and the rival Croxteth Crew.

While he was serving time at HMP Buckley Hall, Rochdale, Duffy organised a multi-million pound drug-running operation between his home city of Liverpool and Norwich.

The drug conspiracy was uncovered when Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) recovered 2kg of heroin with an estimated street value of up to £200,000 when they pulled over a van in Norwich.

The Old Bailey in London heard how Duffy pulled the strings of the operation from his prison cell using a banned mobile phone, and Judge Bate added a further nine years to Duffy’s sentence after he admitted the conspiracy.

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