June 2017: Robert Stoneman is now 67 and is living at Walkhampton Walk, Leigham

March 2003

‘Fortress’ drugs dealer jailed

A Plymouth drugs baron has been sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Robert Stoneman, 53, was found guilty in Truro Crown Court on Tuesday of supplying drugs after denying he had built “a drug dealer’s fortress”.

During the trial, Stoneman also pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a girl under the age of 13.

He has also had £94,000 of money seized from him which will go to drugs projects in Plymouth.

Stoneman was arrested after a lengthy undercover surveillance operation on his home in Wilton Street.

He was eventually arrested by police officers posing as drug users and charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and another of possessing cocaine with intent to supply between January and July 2002.

Detectives set up a secret camera which recorded Stoneman using a lane behind his property in Wilton Street in to store heroin and cocaine.

Drugs were stored wrapped in cling film or in medicine bottles and then hidden in granite walls and outbuildings of neighbouring properties without the consent of the owners.

Police also found large amounts of money hidden around his home and other properties he owned, including £50,000 secreted in a wall in the roof space between two buildings.

During the 10-day trial, the jury was told the area around Stoneman’s house was equipped with 14 security cameras.

Stoneman denied he had what was described as a “drug dealer’s fortress”, but said that he wanted to keep an eye on his tenants.

Perverting justice

During the trial, Stoneman also pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a girl under the age of 13.

When police raided his property, they found a package containing a video showing him having sex with the girl.

It is understood the abuse started when she was 11 in 1979 and continued until she was 16.

Whilst awaiting trial in Exeter prison, Stoneman attempted to persuade one witness not to give evidence against him.

He offered him £8,000 and when the witness refused, he threatened to have him killed.

Stoneman was also found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.