THERE is no evidence to connect former Northwich Victoria owner James Rushe with a drug dealing conspiracy, according to his defending barrister in the eighth day of a crown court trial.

The 54-year-old, of Runcorn Road, in Runcorn, is appearing at Liverpool Crown Court charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine, a Class A drug, alongside co-defendants Mark Fishwick, 46, of Greencroft, in Preston, and Andrew Fetherston, 47, of Barnard Road, in Manchester.

All three men have denied the charge.

As the trial entered its eighth day the prosecution and defence barristers began summing up their cases.

Barry Grennan, defending Rushe, said: "The Crown, in the conclusion of its case, has had to concede in relation to James Rushe's case that if he was ever in it he got out of it or appears to get out of it some time in April 2015 because we don't have any telephone material to link him in the later stages of this.

"The defence case is really rather simple - the reason why he appears to get out of it is because he was never in it.'

The case centres on records of telephone calls between the defendants and members of an organised crime group run by Paul Berry, 47, of Abbey Walk, in Preston, who pleaded guilty to his part in a drugs conspiracy at an earlier hearing.

It also features three key dates.

The first of these is February 27 last year when Rushe and Fishwick met Berry at Warrington pub the Mascrat Manor.

The second is March 18, when a package, which the prosecution allege was Class A drugs, was handed over to Fetherston by Berry's known drugs couriers at go kart track Karting 2000, in Gorton, formerly owned by Rushe but run by Fetherston and Rushe's sons at the time of the incident.

The third date is April 21, 2015, when police intercepted a car on the M6 and found Berry's couriers in possession of quarter of a kilogram of cocaine at import strength of 83 per cent purity.

The prosecution case is that the couriers were going to deliver the cocaine to Fishwick.

Mr Grennan described Rushe as 'a football man all his life' but said attempts to keep Northwich Victoria afloat had not led him into drug dealing.

"James Rushe is somebody who took over a football club, expended many thousands of pounds of his own money, lost it all and became bankrupt.

"'There you go,' the crown say, 'there's the financial incentive to do what they did' but who gave them that information?

"It was Mr Rushe in police interview - he didn't hide it, he told them about it."

Mr Grennan argued that the Mascrat Manor meeting with Berry happened because Rushe thought Berry was setting up a vehicle leasing company in Cheshire and hoped he could sponsor Northwich Victoria.

He also argued that the prosecution could not prove that Rushe had a second 'dirty' phone with which to conduct drugs business.

"The prosecution has to do one thing and if they don't succeed in doing it this case doesn't hang together," he said.

"If they don't succeed in convincing you so you are sure he had a secret phone, what they call a dirty phone, this case doesn't make sense."

The court has heard that messages were found on a mobile phone registered to Rushe from Fishwick which implied that Rushe had another phone.

Mr Grennan said these could not have been incriminating as Rushe had not deleted them after Fishwick's arrest.

"Why weren't they deleted?" Mr Grennan said.

"Why are they on his phone if they are drugs related and could possibly be connected?

"And why, if he's got a dirty phone, why leave information that could refer to a dirty phone?

"What's the first thing you would have done if you were connected to a drugs deal in which you and Mr Fishwick were involved?

"You would look at your phone and you would delete anything that could possibly incriminate you.

"None of that was done and why is that?

"It certainly doesn't have the hallmark of somebody who was being very careful because he's involved in a drugs conspiracy."

The trial continues.