SEVEN Barnsley men have been jailed for a combined total of 43-and-a-half years for their part in a Class A drugs ring in the town.

The self-proclaimed head of the group, Paul Rayner, 44, of Spey Close, Mapplewell, employed numerous people to store, cut and distribute heroin across Barnsley.

After a guilty plea to conspiracy to supply heroin at Sheffield Crown Court on March 13, Rayner was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

On April 1, Nigel Gibbons, 48, of Princess Street, Mapplewell, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to supply heroin.

The police's nine-month investigation uncovered that Gibbons was Rayner's main 'storeman'.

Stephen Boydell, 42, of Forest Road, Athersley North, was also sentenced to six years in prison for the same offence.

Stuart Andrew Hayes, 41, of Montrose Avenue, Darton, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for his part in the ring and Ian Robert Hoyle, 44, of Hopwood Street, Barnsley, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Following an earlier trial, Mark Osbourn, 34, of Coniston Avenue, Staincross, was convicted of conspiracy to supply a Class A drug and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.

David Osbourn, 56, of Clifton Close, Athersley North, was also found guilty at the same trial and received two-and-a-half years behind bars.

The investigation, which began in January 2013, recovered heroin worth £85,000, along with around £20,000 in cash.

Detective Sergeant Antony Coy, who lead the investigation codenamed Operation Mica, said: "Heroin and other illicit drugs destroy lives, something that those who engage in illegal drug dealing are ambivalent to.

"The culmination of this investigation should serve as a warning to other drug dealers that we will hound you, we will prosecute you and, where possible, we shall seize your homes and assets."

The eighth conspirator, Rebecca Elrington, 31, of Park View, Royston, will be sentenced next week.