DRUG dealers including a married couple who both use mobility scooters have been jailed for their role in selling cocaine on Canvey.

Stephen Tappenden, 62, and his wife Tracy Tappenden, 53, were involved in collecting cocaine from London and dishing it out to lower-level dealers who sold it on Canvey.

Following a raid at their home in Wickhay, Basildon, a number of mobile phones were found which included text messages linked to dealing and addressing Stephen Tappenden.

During police interviews, Tracy Tappenden admitted to playing “an administrative role” that saw her travel to London to collect drugs.

The court heard Stephen Tappenden had “lost everything” after being diagnosed with a brain tumour and turned to drug dealing.

The Tappenden’s worked alongside couple James Gorrie, 60, and Vicky Martin, 56, and a raid at Martin's home in Fielding Way, Hutton, Brentwood, uncovered 44 packages of cocaine in gold wraps found in green carrier bags, drug paraphernalia and £1455 in cash.

All four were linked to the sale of cocaine on Canvey between April and October last year.

The group were charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine following police raids and admitted charges against them.

On Friday at Southend Crown Court, Stephen Tappenden, Tracey Tappenden and Gorrie were jailed, while Martin was handed a suspended sentence.

Kemi Fapohunda, prosecuting, said: “In police interviews Mrs Tappenden said she played an administrative role holding phones and travelling to London to collect cocaine.

“She said Mr Tappenden directed runners and denied picking up money herself.

“Ms Martin said she had been in a relationship with James Gorrie for 18 months and lived at his home, adding some of the cash belonged to her and wasn’t drug related.

“Mr Tappenden and Mr Gorrie answered no comment on their offences.”

Mitigation lawyer Michael Latham insisted his client, Stephen Tappenden, was “deeply ashamed”.

He said: “Mr Tappenden is deeply ashamed of the position he has put himself and his family in.

“He worked as a taxi driver for 30 years before being diagnosed with a brain tumour and undergoing a dramatic operation which left him in a somewhat weakened position relying on a mobility scooter.

“He lost everything except his wife and children and accepts the path he took was wrong and he must be punished.”

Richard Keogh mitigated for Tracy Tappenden and James Gorrie.

On Tracy, he said: “Mrs Tappenden has stated she was frightened by someone else higher up the line and she was naïve, gullible and effectively groomed by others.

“She willingly did it but following these events finds herself in the unenviable position of being in a mobility scooter in HMP Peterborough.”

Speaking about Gorrie, he added: “Mr Gorrie has lost several family members in the past two years and he is mortified his daughter has to see him in court.”

Richard Bendall represented Martin and called for her to be spared jail.

He said: “Ms Martin is a hard working single mother who has done voluntary work for the elderly delivering food and toiletries.

“She is remorseful and realises what a fool she’s made of herself at her age.”

Judge Samantha Leigh jailed Stephen Tappenden for three years and eight months, and both Gorrie and Tracy Tappenden were jailed for two years and ten months.

Martin, of Fielding Way, Hutton, Brentwood, was handed a 24 month sentence suspended for 24 months with a 60-day rehabilitation activity requirement.