THE remaining member of a gang of heroin dealers has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Michael Purnell, 47, of Melbourne Road, York, should have learnt his punishment when Brian Smith, 37, of James Street Caravan Site, and the rest of the gang of heroin dealers were sentenced.

But as he sat in the dock alongside them, he had difficulty keeping his eyes open and Judge Peter Armstrong ordered him to be taken to the cells while the hearing continued.

Later, the cell guards asked for permission to take him to hospital because he was not well. He returned to Teesside Crown Court days later and received a four-year sentence.

The court heard he and another gang member ran a drug-dealing business at his house. Smith arranged to have heroin brought into York from Doncaster and organised couriers to transport it up the A19 and distribute within York, including to Purnell’s house.

But after a police operation all the gang were rounded up. Purnell denied a charge of conspiracy to supply heroin, but was convicted earlier this year.

Smith was jailed for nine and a half years for the conspiracy and other charges, the rest of the gang were sent to jail for lesser terms, apart from Smith’s wife, Danielle, who received a two-year suspended prison sentence.