Guestling man to repay more than £220,000 in drugs profits
A 66-year old man has been given a court order to pay back more than £220,000 after he was convicted of producing cannabis in a portacabin and trailer unit at his house in Guestling.
David Wilson, living at Guestling House, had been arrested in January 2013 following the execution of a drugs warrant by officers from Rother’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, in which more than 300 cannabis plants in various stages of growth and evidence of previous crops were found during the search. In addition the electricity supply to the growing areas had been bypassed.
Wilson pleaded guilty to production of cannabis and abstraction of electricity when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on 12 August 2013.
He told the court that the cannabis was for his personal use as an alternative to conventional painkillers but this explanation was not accepted by the CPS, or the court, and Wilson was sentenced to 36 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
A Sussex Police Financial Investigator calculated that Mr Wilson had benefitted from his criminality to the value of £224,116.56, and at a hearing at Lewes Crown Court on Friday 5 February this year under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) he was ordered to pay that amount within three months or to serve 30 months in prison in default, and still have to pay.
Funds seized by the courts through POCA confiscation or cash forfeiture orders go to the central Government exchequer. However a proportion of this is returned to law enforcement.
POCA-derived funding is distributed equally between the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable. Sussex Police receive 50% cash back from cash forfeitures and 18.75% cash back from confiscation orders such as this.
The force currently employs an extra six Financial Investigators and two Financial Intelligence Officers from part of these funds to help continue work in seizing criminal assets, with the remainder being used to support crime reduction and diversion projects.
Detective Inspector Mick Richards of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said; “Wilson tried to hide his assets by putting a 50% share of his property on his wife’s name but our Financial Investigator established that this was after his conviction.
“We will continue to pursue criminal activity beyond court conviction, using the skills of our investigators to help recover money for the benefit of law-abiding society. So far this year alone we have achieved confiscation orders worth more than £2 million.”