Drug trial florist Gary Pattison's haulage company lost £1m in 7 years
A FLORIST on trial accused of smuggling £23.5 million of cocaine into Hull was allegedly in financial difficulty after his business lost more than £1 million, a court heard.
Gary Pattison, 52, is accused of smuggling 84kg of cocaine into the city hidden in Valentine's Day flowers.
Port officials discovered the "high-quality" cocaine hidden among yellow chrysanthemums in the back of his truck in three long, rectangular boxes among bouquets and hundreds of loose flowers.
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard Mr Pattison's haulage company, called Sharron Pattison Logistics, had lost more than £1 million over the past seven years.
Mr Pattison's flower shop, also called Sharron Pattison, at North Point shopping centre, in Bransholme, and his property rental business were making a profit.
The prosecution had alleged the financial difficulties could be Mr Pattison's motivation for allegedly being involved in smuggling drugs.
Financial investigator Brian Ludlow said: "The flower shop and rental business were in profit but, in contrast, the haulage business was running as a loss since 2005. In the past financial year it lost £219,000."
In cross-examination Mr Pattison's barrister Neil Flewitt QC told the jury the defendant had invested more than £200,000 into his haulage business to purchase new equipment to change its future prospects.
The jury was shown accounts that showed the gross fixed assets of the haulage business were more than £1 million and the net assets amounted to more than £460,000.
Mr Flewitt QC said: "This is a business, albeit trading at a loss, but if wound up Mr Pattison would be left with £461,239. Maybe a lot of people would be left redundant but Mr Pattison would be OK."
Mr Pattison was stopped in his lorry on February 10 as he returned to Hull from the flower market in Aalsmeer in Holland.
In his police interview, the court heard, he claimed he had loaded 22 trolleys containing hundreds of flowers into his truck and had not checked his order because he had taken the company on "trust" that his order was correct.
He told them: "I had an invoice. You do it all on trust, there is that much stuff. You take it on trust that what you put on the truck is what you have ordered.
"I put all the stuff onto my truck and stacked the trolleys. I would only check them when I got back to Bransholme."
The court heard the three boxes containing the drugs were up to six times heavier than the other boxes of flowers.
Mr Pattison told the police in his interview he was not surprised that three of the boxes were heavier than the rest because tulips and carnation sprays can be heavy.
He said: "You would be surprised, I tell you. Tulips and carnation sprays are rammed in and they are heavier.
"You will be surprised how heavy flowers are."
Prosecutor Paul Mitchell said Mr Pattison's fingerprints were found on two of the boxes of drugs and said he must have noticed their weight and different appearance when he loaded them into his truck.
The boxes weighed 30kg compared with the other flower boxes, which weighed between 5kg to 8kg.
Mr Pattison, of Ferry Lane, Woodmansey, denies importing Class A drugs into the country and the trial continues.
The Mail would like to point out Janet Pattison florists in Greenwood Avenue is in no way associated with Sharron Pattison florists.