Payback time for Valentine's Day drugs florist caught at Hull docks
A FLORIST who smuggled £23.5m-worth of drugs into the city hidden in Valentine's Day flowers may have to pay back £900,000 from his criminal activities.
Businessman Gary Pattison was jailed for 18 years after he hid the packages of drugs in three boxes of flowers covered with yellow chrysanthemums.
Pattison, whose three businesses generated £2m income, turned to smuggling out of greed to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Now, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Pattison, of Ferry Lane, Woodmansey, is being brought back to court to have all the money he made from his criminal conduct taken off him.
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The prosecution estimate he has benefited from his criminality by £900,000.
Prosecutor James Fletcher told Hull Crown Court that Pattison has been sent a letter asking him to repay £900,000 and he has now been given time to respond.
If he can prove he legitimately earned the money then he will not have to repay it.
His barrister Richard Fisher said: "His free property exceeds the £900,000 figure and he has an estimated £1.1m available. The benefit figure has not yet been responded to by the defendant."
A hearing date will be set later in the year for the sides to come to an agreement.
The prosecution has also applied to the court to order a receiver to manage Pattison's businesses until the final hearing. Presently, his family are running the businesses.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC has adjourned making a decision until he has been given more details.
Pattison had used his haulage business, called Sharron Pattison Logistics, to smuggle the drugs into Hull docks hidden among his flower delivery for his florist shop, also called Sharron Pattison, formerly at the North Point Shopping Centre, in Bransholme.
A jury of ten men and two women at Sheffield Crown Court took just three hours to find him unanimously guilty of drug smuggling.
Recorder Martin Simpson jailed him for 18 years and told Pattison said he must have been trusted by the drug dealers.
He said: "From the drugs that you were involved with and the purity, I draw the inescapable conclusion you were well trusted by those even higher up the scale of this illegal operation and that you were using your own business and were not merely a lorry driver, but you were the owner.
"It is impossible to concede those involved, even bigger criminals, trusting someone with whom they didn't have a sufficient relationship with to rely upon them with millions of pounds of drugs.
"A courier you may have been, but a courier at the top of the trade and who must have been trusted."