A DRUG smuggler who used 'confidential' stamps to traffic Spice into prisons says he has seen first hand the damage the so-called 'zombie' drug causes while in jail.

Rickie McCullough-Hyett-Brooks of Worcester, who roped his pregnant partner into the trafficking business, read out a letter expressing his remorse for the hurt he has caused prison and street users.

As previously reported, he admitted a string of drugs offences involving the production and supply of synthetic cannabinoids into prison - a drug which is up to 40 times stronger than ordinary cannabis.

This involved admissions to the production of synthetic cannabinoids (three counts) and being concerned in their supply into prison (three further counts), possession of criminal property (cash) - the proceeds of the criminal business - and possession of MDMA (ecstasy) and ketamine with intent to supply.

Andrew Davidson who prosecuted the case at Worcester Crown Court on Friday described three types of Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists (SCRA) on the indictment which he said could be '40 times more potent than ordinary cannabis' and called it 'a sophisticated drug trafficking operation' on a commercial scale which involved infusing A4 paper with the class B drug.

Worcester News: GUILTY: Rickie McCullough-Hyett-Brooks. Photo: West Mercia Police

The defendant, a ground worker, had 'a bespoke laboratory' for producing Spice and thousands of pounds in cash with the potential to make £1million from the business.

In total officers found 21 different types of drugs and eight mobile phones when they carried out a search at various locations linked to the defendant including his home in Worcester, his car, an industrial unit in Tewkesbury and Emma Meszaros's address in Yarnold Terrance, Cheltenham.

Meszaros is now carrying the defendant's child in what has been termed a 'high risk pregnancy'.

Drugs and raw materials were found, drugs paraphernalia and, overall, 7.2kg of SCRA. On the open marked this would be worth between £90,000 and £254,000 but traded in prison the value is greatly inflated to between £700,000 and £1million said Mr Davidson.

The search warrant was executed by police on March 17 this year at his home address in Perrins Way, Claines, near Worcester. The defendant was arrested a short distance away in his Audi A3.

The 35-year-old read out the letter as he appeared over live link from prison before he was jailed for seven years and four months.

"I have caused harm to a lot of people. I had no idea of the extent of the damage to users until my time in prison," he said.

"I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect not only to the users and their families in the local community. I regret my actions entirely.

The defendant, who spent some of his time with his head in his hands during the hearing, said he took full responsibility for what he had done and took up the production of the drug because his work ground to a standstill during the Covid pandemic.

However, he said: "In no way am I trying to justify what I have done."

While inside he said he had committed the 'time for change course' and vowed to continue his good behaviour and 'address my poor decision making'.

"I deeply regret my actions" he said.

Abigail Nixon, defending, also said: "His partner is due to give birth so he will miss the birth and early years of that child."

We previously reported how his partner, Emma Meszaros, 30, was given an 18-month community order for her much smaller role in the enterprise.

McCullough-Hyett-Brooks used confidential stamps (rule 39 stamps) and fake solicitors' letters to get the drugs into jail, knowing that prison officers would not be able to open the correspondence because the private letters were for the eyes of prisoners only.

A statement from the prison governor at HMP Exeter, one of the prisons the drugs were bound for, described how psychoactive substances likes the ones supplied by the defendant caused debt-related violence, bullying, created medical emergencies and caused prisoners to become 'extremely violent or unresponsive' and had 'an impact on the health and safety of staff'.

The enterprise lasted between April 3 last year and March 17 this year. They found what Mr Davidson described as a dealer's list with the names of up to 50 prisoners on it and seven prison addresses kept in a diary.

Cutting agents, mixing bowls and cash were also found - £3,430 on him or in his car and a further £3,500 in the industrial unit. A total of £400 in smaller notes was found in the kitchen of his Worcester home.

He sent 68 papers impregnated with SCRA to HMP Exeter on April 4 last year with a value of between £50,000 and £63,000.