Gary Pattison cocaine trial: From market stall to millionaire ... but drug-dealing florist with expensive taste wanted even more
HE HAD all the trappings of a wealthy businessman, from the luxury home to the lavish lifestyle.
To his neighbours, Gary Pattison seemed like a self-made success.
With his imposing home and two Mercedes cars in the driveway, it appeared his three businesses were going from strength to strength.
But, behind the facade, his haulage company was crumbling.
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Desperate to sustain the life he had built for himself, Pattison turned to crime.
None of his neighbours in Ferry Lane, Woodmansey, suspected for a moment he was involved in one of the biggest drug smuggling operations ever seen in Hull.
"We just can't believe it," said one of his neighbours.
"He is a really nice guy and looks nothing like what you would expect of a drug smuggler.
"If you drove past him, he would wave, if you were outside when he was, he would stop to chat. What he was really doing is shocking."
His £300,000 home, with bar, gym and Jacuzzi, stands behind imposing black electric gates.
Yesterday, those gates remained firmly closed and the newly-paved driveway was empty of vehicles.
His luxury home stands almost at the end of the quiet lane, where the silence is only broken by the sound of birdsong.
But, in February, that peace was shattered when police swooped on the house after Pattison was found with 84kg of cocaine in his lorry as he returned to Hull docks from Amsterdam.
"I couldn't believe how many police were at the house," said the neighbour.
"There were dozens of officers and cars and vans all down the street. They were in the house for hours. You could see camera flashes, like they were taking pictures of what they had found.
"We were all wondering why they were there. We never imagined it would be connected to drugs."
Inside, officers found almost £50,000 in cash – despite Pattison's partner, Lindsay Manson, claiming the couple did not lead a lavish lifestyle.
Since that raid, the house where Pattison would often be seen playing with his grandchildren has been unusually quiet.
"I have seen Lindsay's car there maybe once a week, but it hasn't been like she has been living there," said the neighbour.
"We used to hear the kids laughing and playing all the time. Now it is really quiet. I don't know what will happen to the house now, if it will be sold, but I am pleased he's gone.
"You don't want that kind of person living near you. What he has done is about greed and nothing else and, if it wasn't for people like him bringing these drugs into the country, there wouldn't be kids out there getting addicted.
"It makes me feel sick. I would expect this sort of thing to be going on nearby if I lived in New York, but not Woodmansey.
"I am glad he has gone to prison. We earn an honest living and can't afford some of the things they had. Now we know he was just being greedy. He deserves what has happened."
Although his neighbours described Pattison as a friendly family man, one said he seemed unusually private in recent years.
"He did keep himself to himself and was a little guarded," they said.
"He had security gates with a keypad lock at the front of the house and some more further down the driveway. Last year, he had cameras put on the side of the house and a full new alarm system put in.
"I have always thought there was something a little funny about him. They hardly ever went out and they never had parties or people round. They went on holiday maybe two or three times a year, but weren't particularly flash.
"I thought he must have been doing well, because he told me about buying a new lorry for £1 million and they both had nice Mercedes. They had the drive block-paved last year for the second time, which must have cost a fortune.
"I used to joke that he was the king of Bransholme, because his lorries were always parked up near there.
"I just thought the businesses were doing well, not that he was involved in this type of thing.
"He didn't look like you would expect someone like that to appear – he was short and fat and was always wearing Bermuda shorts."
On Saturday mornings, Pattison would often be seen standing outside the florist he owned in North Point Shopping Centre, selling bags of reduced fruit and vegetables.
But the shop now stands empty, the former Sharron Pattison sign freshly painted green and the shutters pulled down.
The store closed for the final time earlier this month, on the eve of the trial which would lead to its owner being jailed for 18 years.
News of the guilty verdict spread quickly through the centre yesterday, with many expressing shock.
"I know him and I know his family and I can't believe it's true," said one customer at a café.
"It must be though if he has been found guilty. If he did do it, it is only because of greed, so he has got what he deserves."