Seven sentenced after attack on rival drug dealer, Exeter

A gang of seven men have been jailed for over 67 years after an Exeter man was almost stabbed to death in a rival drugs war.

Conor Cain, 19, was stabbed 18 times while he slept at a house in Lower Summerlands on 6 April 2016.

He was blinded by pepper spray before being attacked by at least four men who were wearing masks or hoods.

He suffered severe injuries including a four-inch deep potentially fatal chest wound, three wounds to his liver and others to his legs and head.

His life was only saved because he received immediate medical attention for the chest wound and loss of blood.

Exeter Crown Court heard that the assault was due to a rivalry between a group of drug dealers from Liverpool who had been operating around Devon and Cornwall.

Mr Cain became a target due to his involvement in drug dealing and because he had concealed a consignment of Class A drugs inside his body. This was discovered by doctors at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital as he underwent treatment for the knife wounds.

Cain was jailed for three-and-a-half years in a young offenders’ institution last July for possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.

Seven men, four from Liverpool and three from Devon, all previously pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and were sentenced by Exeter Crown Court today [29 June] for the attack on Conor Cain.

Sentencing is as follows:

  • Bart Wrighton, 22, of Trafalgar Close, Plymouth, 13.5 years custody 4 years on license
  • Liam O’Brien, 22, of Overbury Street, Liverpool; 13 years custody 4 years on license
  • Callum Cheetham, 22, of East Prescott Road, Liverpool, 13 years custody 4 years on license
  • Matthew Henney, 21, of Eaglehall Road, Liverpool; 10 years custody plus 4 years on license
  • Carl Mainard, 39, of Russell Walk, Exeter, had admitted unlawful wounding. – 2 years custody and 1 year on license
  • Drew Morgan, 28, of Wynford Road, Exeter; – 1 year in custody suspended for 2 years

The court convicted and sentenced Toohey 19 years (15 years in custody, 4 years on license) in his absence, after he went on the run and failed to turn up for court to face trial. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and police enquiries continue on an effort to locate him.

During the trial the court heard that four Liverpudlians travelled to Devon and Morgan allowed his Wynford Road flat to be used as a local base for the gang to operate from. They returned to the flat as a refuge after the attack.

Mainard was caught on CCTV buying a block of knives from the Rydon Lane branch of Tesco to be used in the attack. Police found the discarded knives and knife block in roads around the scene of the crime.

Deputy senior investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Dave Egan from Exeter Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “We welcome today’s sentence. This was a complex and demanding investigation led by the Exeter Major Crime Investigation Team over 12 months.

“The vicious knife attack upon victim Conor Cain in April 2016 was linked to the unlawful supply of controlled drugs in Devon and Cornwall.

“Since the attack the tenacity and attention to detail of the investigation team has led to the arrest, charge and successful conviction of seven defendants.

“By working in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service, Merseyside Police and other multi-agency colleagues we have ensured a successful outcome in this case. I would like to thank Mr Simon Laws QC and Barrister Peter Coombe who led on a difficult and complex prosecution, and played a key role in the securing of a successful conviction.

“Today’s verdict and sentencing proves that crimes of this type are a community priority, will always be taken seriously and offenders will be brought to justice.”

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

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