Criminals warned crime won't pay as police recover £3m
CRIMINALS across East Yorkshire have been given a stark warning that crime will not pay.
This year, Humberside Police has recouped almost £3 million from criminals in the force's largest ever seizures under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
It comes as the force is currently seeking to strip Hull boxer Tony Booth of all his assets after he was jailed for taking part in a cocaine ring in the city – as the Mail has revealed on today's front page.
The force has made some of its largest ever seizures from the assets of drug dealers and money launderers.
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In the past eight months, Humberside Police's financial investigation unit has forced criminals to pay back £2,863,223 through the courts.
It has seen luxury yachts, houses, high-performance cars and personalised number plates being seized.
Senior financial investigator of the Major Crime Unit Lorraine Baines said: "This year, so far, many long-running confiscation investigations have concluded and Humberside Police have had an unprecedented run of large orders.
"For years, many criminals had profited from their criminality, had served their sentences, come out and continued to live a lifestyle funded by their crimes.
"This was often in full view of many hard-working families in the local community.
"Now, every case where a criminal has made a financial benefit from crime is looked at by one of the team of ten investigators, with the aim to show the local community that crime does not pay."
The force's largest confiscation was on East Riding property developer Joseph Kelly, who had funded his £1 million fortune through cannabis production.
He had been jailed for producing £12,700 of cannabis.
But on his release, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, he has been forced to pay back more than 60 times that amount.
Kelly, 49, will have to pay back £784,471.92 within six months or face a four-year prison sentence.
He will have to sell all of his property and land from Patrington to Goole.
Since January, the force has made 36 confiscation orders totalling £2,612,548.
In addition, there have been 36 cash forfeiture orders totalling £250,675.
The force made its second largest seizure when it took £393,706 from lorry driver and convicted drug smuggler Dean Priestley and his family.
Priestley, 47, was on the run – hiding in the East Riding village of Bielby for four years – from the French authorities for smuggling cannabis.
The Falklands veteran, who served in the Royal Navy, crossed his criminal associates by stealing £1 million in dirty money and went on a six-month spending spree.
He bought a £900,000 grade two-listed former water mill in Bielby, spent £500,000 on high- performance cars, bought a £230,000 luxury cruiser, a £5,000 diamond pendant for his wife and purchased a £160,000 home for his son.
Through the courts, the financial investigators forced Priestley to sell all his assets and he has handed over £393,706.
He must pay this money back within six months or face two years and ten months in prison.
Fraudster Brett Walker was ordered to pay £669,125, drug dealer Philip Wise has been ordered to pay back £101,675 and cannabis producer Neil Gladstone has been ordered to repay £151,165.
Mrs Baines said: "In June, the order against Brett Walker for £669,125 was the largest the force had ever obtained but two months later an even larger order was made against Joseph Kelly for £784,471.
"The team has been very successful.
"In 2008 the force, supported by the Police Authority, recognised the need to set up a larger team of financial investigators dedicated to asset recovery.
"When a confiscation order is made, it is only the first step to recovering the assets.
"The criminal is given a period of time to sell the assets, sometimes up to six months.
"If the assets remain unsold then a default term of imprisonment is imposed and the courts and CPS will then force the sale of assets through various avenues, including charging orders and distress warrants.
"Many criminals find their assets are restrained at an early stage of the investigation, preventing them from selling without the consent of the court."
Humberside Police receive 50 per cent of the cash forfeiture.
Mrs Baines added: "Most of the funds so far have been invested in setting up the Asset Recovery Investigation Unit, but now that it is up and running we are looking towards increasing the amount going back into community projects to help prevent crime."
If a criminal ever comes into money, the financial investigators will continue to pursue them until the total debt is repaid.