London drug dealer jailed for 16 years after evading arrest for three years
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Kassel Gayle, aged 25, from Norwood in south east London has been jailed for seven years and six months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, heroin and crack cocaine, in Southampton in 2016. In addition he received 12 years consecutively for a robbery offence in London. The judge reduced the total sentence to 16 years. He was jailed at Kingston Crown Court yesterday (August 13).
Gayle was arrested for drugs offences in Southampton in 2016 in connection with the investigation into the death of Michael Freshwater and then released under investigation.
Michael’s body was found at an address in Westridge Road, Southampton on April 29, 2016.
An investigation into Michael’s death, called Operation Windless, led by Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Team, revealed a London based drugs network operating in Southampton.
No one was ever charged with Michael’s murder and the coroner later ruled a narrative verdict. However, seven men were arrested for drug offences after officers began gathering evidence surrounding Michael’s death.
In early 2017, six of them were jailed:
• Tristan Pope, age 22 of Eastcote Lane, South Harrow, London received eight years • Kevin Suika, age 23 of Holloway, North London was given six years • Dantai Thompson, age 18 of no fixed abode was ordered to serve two years • Daniel Sadler, aged 34 of Kings Georges Avenue, Southampton was given a two years suspended sentence • Daniel Ferrett, aged 29 of no fixed abode was handed four years and 6 months • Jammoy Bent, aged 25, Golden Grove, Southampton was given an eight year jail term
The seventh man was Kassel Gayle. His six acquaintances had been jailed for a combined total of 28 years and six months, and seeing this, Gayle kept on running from the law.
His face appeared on Crimewatch as a wanted man, and officers believed he was either lying low or operating in London, trying to avoid the sentences his ‘business partners’ received.
However, on June 23, 2018 a police officer on duty at Gatwick Airport noticed a man acting suspiciously at the arrivals terminal. Gayle’s description had been circulated on the police national computer (PNC) and as such the tattoo on his neck caught the eagle-eyed officer’s attention. It read in scripture ‘Pray for me.’
The man tried to give the officer false details but luckily the officer had a mobile fingerprint machine at his fingertips, and confirmed it was Kassel Gayle, wanted by both Hampshire Constabulary and The Metropolitan Police Service, as such he was arrested.
Detective Constable Steve Norridge, who led the investigation into Michael’s death and subsequently achieved convictions for the London drug network operating in Southampton, said: “We weren’t going to stop until we had the whole network behind bars. I can only extend my gratitude to the officer at Gatwick Airport for his intuition and tenacity for acting on his suspicions and identifying Gayle so we could put him before a court.
“Three years on most people may have thought we had closed this case, but this sentencing shows that we are always working hard behind the scenes to ensure all those involved in criminality are brought to justice.
“Hampshire Constabulary is dedicated to reducing the harm caused by drugs, and tackling county lines drug networks across the whole force area is part of that. We hope this case sends a clear message to those who think they can come to Hampshire to operate a drugs line. You won’t get away with it, and we won’t stop until you’re behind bars, no matter how long it takes.”