A PAIR of vulnerable children who were used to traffic drugs between Merseyside and Cumbria were housed by residents of Barrow.

The revelation comes as three county lines drug dealers, including one from Barrow, were jailed for a total of 14 years.

A Cumbria Constabulary spokesman said the county lines trade was a ‘growing problem’ and that, ‘all too often’, gangs were exploiting vulnerable young people to carry drugs between different parts of the country.

A spokesman for the South Drugs Unit said the group of drug dealers in this case targeted two vulnerable children ‘specifically due to their young age’ and moved them between Liverpool and Barrow more than once.

“They placed young lives in danger, just to provide themselves with a thin layer of protection from law enforcement,” said the spokesman.

“Sadly, some Barrow residents allowed these children to stay in their homes.

“Cumbria Police and its partners work together to keep Cumbria safe and protect the vulnerable.

“The Barrow sense of community spirit and willingness to protect vulnerable people is vital in assisting police to arrest and prosecute abhorrent offenders such as these.

“Our request to communities is that they report suspicious activity as soon as possible where drug dealing and exploitation is concerned.

“Our message to drug dealers is that you will be caught, and you should expect to go to prison for a long time.”

Helen Cairns, 36, of Egerton Court, Barrow, received three years, seven months imprisonment after pleading guilty to the charges of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine. Also given jail terms were Dean Knight, of Station Road, Birkenhead, and Cody McNulty, of Pembroke Court, Birkenhead.

The police investigation revealed that Cairns was recruited to facilitate the sale of drugs locally.

A Cumbria Constabulary spokesman said: “The police investigation found that Dean Knight travelled to Barrow in early January 2019. It was shown that Cody McNulty facilitated his travel on several occasions throughout the course of the drug dealing enterprise.

“A drug dealing phone line called ‘Ben’, a common method used in county lines, was set up by Knight.

“Helen Cairns, local to Barrow, was then recruited to facilitate the selling of the drugs locally.

“The ‘Ben’ group identified and exploited two vulnerable Merseyside teenagers, trafficking them to Barrow to run the drugs around the town and supply them to local users.

“On January 24, local officers were in Egerton Court when they became suspicious of two teenagers, later identified as the victims of trafficking. The victims were followed to Cairns’ flat, where Knight was found and arrested for drug supply and human trafficking offences. Cairns was arrested later that day.”