Encrochat dealer ‘Battle-Hawk’ hid cocaine block in kitchen cupboard

A drug dealer who plotted the transfer of kilos of Class A drugs was found with a vacuum sealed block of cocaine in a cupboard in his house.

Michael Doyle directed the movement of large amounts of cocaine, heroin and amphetamine throughout the first half of 2020. The Bickerstaffe dad was jailed today after an investigation laid bare his criminality.

Charles Lander, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court Doyle was snared after the hacking of the Encrochat network.

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The messaging service, so heavily encrypted it was touted as impenetrable, was favoured by criminals as a method of communication for months. Yet the hacking of the service as part of a pan-European effort back in 2020 has resulted in dozens of criminals facing justice across the continent.

Every Encrochat user was assigned a handle. Doyle’s, “Battle-Hawk”, was linked to the supply of Class A drugs during the first half of 2020. The 44 year old had amassed 55 contacts on his device and chatted with them about drugs deals within Merseyside and across the world in messages heard in court today.

Messages downloaded by police only covered a three month period between March and June but Mr Lander said the first traceable messages showed Doyle had a well established business by the spring of that year. He said: “From reviewing the encrypted messages sent and received by the Defendant, it is apparent that he was in contact throughout the conspiracy period with various individuals about the sourcing of controlled drugs to others.

“As one trawls through the messages, it is apparent that the defendant was involved in a number of successful transactions in relation to the supply of multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine but it is also of significance that he traded in kilogram amounts of heroin and multi-kilogram amounts of amphetamine.”

Mr Lander pointed to a series of messages which saw Doyle converse with other Encrochat users. One, from March, appears to show him organise a drugs pick up from a shuttered pub in Merseyside. Another just a day later sees him chat with someone using the handle “illusivehat” about paying £40,000 for a kilogram of cocaine and discuss how they could sell it to settle other bills.

In other messages, they talked about “plane jobs” and “fish jobs” in what a police drugs expert said was reference to the movement of drugs by air and sea. Mr Lander said Doyle remained involved in drugs after the Encrochat breach in the middle of the year.

Police raided his home in April 2022, finding a large block of cocaine in a kitchen cupboard. It had been vacuum sealed and prepared for onward supply. Doyle was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and amphetamine as well as possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He pleaded guilty earlier this year.

A judge today found Doyle had organised the sale of at least 7kgs of cocaine, though there was evidence of other potential trades that could not be proved fully. Michael Bagley, defending said Doyle fell into the drugs trade after becoming addicted to cocaine himself and now deeply regretted his actions.

He said: “I have before you someone who is contrite, who says through his instructions to me that he is glad it has come to an end. He is doing the best he can in custody to improve himself.”

Judge Judith Bond said Doyle was obviously in an established enough position in the drugs trade to control significant amounts of business. She said: You are quite clearly directing the buying and selling of drugs on what can only be considered a commercial scale.”

Doyle, of Heyescroft, was jailed for 12 years.

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