A 42-YEAR-OLD man has gone on trial accused of being involved in a conspiracy to supply drugs.

Stephen Barton, of Brandy House Brow, Blackburn, bought either amphetamine or cannabis worth £36,000 from two dealers, a court heard.

One of them, Darren Bowling, 47, of Colne Road, Barrowford, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, two charges of concealment of criminal property and possession of criminal property, the jury heard.

The other alleged dealer, Michael Donnelly is not joining Barton in the dock at Preston Crown Court because in September last year, he fled the United Kingdom to South Africa via Dubai and has not returned, the court was told.

Barton denies conspiring to supply class B drugs, transferring £36,750 of criminal property and possessing £7,025 of criminal property.

Also standing trial is Melvin Harrison, 62, of Causey Foot, Nelson, who is charged with possessing criminal property and concealing criminal property. He also denies both charges.

The judge was told Harrison was an employee of Bowling at his business Castle Self Storage in Hapton. It was as part of that job that it is alleged he helped to hide drugs money.

Arthur Gibson, prosecuting, said: "People sell drugs for money and the money is invariably paid in cash and kept in cash.

"Harrison’s role was to act as a custodian for his employer Bowling by hiding large amounts of cash at the premises of Castle Storage."

When the police moved in in January, Harrison was allegedly seen to hand Bowling a box, which was later found to contain £48,140. Later, officers found three packages of cash totalling £91,350 at Castle Storage, the jury was told.

The prosecutor said one of those packages had earlier been given by another dealer Paul Bell to Bowling who then delivered it to Harrison.

Police carried out a year-long investigation which included the seizure of mobile phones and analysis of data stored on them.

Mr Gibson told the jury: "It is clear that Bowling was running a drug supply business for some time and that the money hidden in Castle Storage was undoubtedly from the proceeds of that business.

"Whether Harrison knew or suspected that the money hidden at Castle Storage came from the supply of drugs or some other criminal activity is of course the issue for you to decide."

Three other men involved in the group have pleaded guilty to offences involving drugs.