Bid to claw back gang’s drugs cash

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PROSECUTORS are hoping to claw back illegal profits made by a Hartlepool cocaine ring.

Twelve members of the network that operated out of a luxury flat at Hartlepool Marina were back in court yesterday as a proceeds of crime application got underway.

The network headed by businessman John Rayner, 37, and his beautician wife Tanya Rayner, 31, sold kilo-sized blocks of cocaine to dealers for £50,000 a time.

The 13 dealers involved in the operation were jailed for a total of more than 100 years last year.

The crown will try to show how much each member of the drug network benefitted from their part and what they have to pay back.

The hearing at Teesside Crown Court heard legal arguments over the value of the drugs involved.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, argued the sum for each defendant should be based on a street value of £200,000 per kilo of cocaine, assuming each £50,000 deal would have been cut and sold on for profit at least twice as it moved down the supply chain.

But that was rejected by Recorder Simon Thorp for the top level dealers John and Tanya Rayner, Mark Gelson and Steven Campbell, both 34, Dean McBean, 33, and Anthony Smith, 35.

Police discovered seven kilos of 60 per cent pure cocaine being traded by the ring from Jarsling House, at the marina.

But there was evidence it was just part of a bigger consignment of 18 to 20 kilos.

The confiscation application is scheduled to last up to five days and is likely to hear evidence from financial investigators and possibly the defendents.

Some are expected to claim they were only paid a small amount for their roles.

The case saw John Rayner and Tanya Rayner, formerly of The Paddock, in Elwick, jailed for 13 and a half years and 10 years respectively.

Campbell, formerly of Clifton Avenue, Hartlepool, was jailed for nine years and his right-hand man McBean, of Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for eight and a half years.

Gelson, also of Marlowe Road, who fronted the retail side of the operation was sentenced to six years and four months in jail.

Smith, of Meadowgate Drive, Hartlepool, received a nine-year jail sentence.

Cocaine buyer Jonathan Chapman, 28, of Caistor Drive, Hartlepool, was given seven and a half years, as was another customer Paul Johnson, 30, of Maxwell Road, Hartlepool.

Newcastle dealers Nicky Dishman, 28, of Berrington Drive, and Aaron Christofis, 31, of Ashover Road, got eight and a half years and seven years and nine months respectively.

Gary Williams, 37, of Ashwood Meadows, Peterlee, was jailed for six years and nine months.

They all admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Leslie Graham, 47, of Greenachers Farm, Haswell, was jailed for seven and a half years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

The court heard he had put up £10,000 for a prospective deal.

The 13th dealer found to be involved, Sharon McEvoy, 42, of Antrim Close, Newcastle, received three years and seven months after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

But McEvoy is not contesting the confiscation application and was not present in court.