Court bid to strip £30m drugs gang ringleader of his ill-gotten gain

Drugs uncovered by police
Drugs uncovered by police

A court case will be held next year in a bid by prosecutors to strip the ringleader of a £30 million drug dealing operation of his ill-gotten gains.

Adrian Morfitt, 31, from Hartlepool, is serving a 12-year prison sentence after he admitted being part of a plot to flood the streets with cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.

Adrian Morfitt

Adrian Morfitt

Teesside Crown Court heard he was one of the ringleaders of an organised crime gang that traded in wholesale quantities of Class A and B drugs with a larger gang in Liverpool.

Morfitt returned to court this week for an update on proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It heard there are unanswered questions concerning money transfers carried out by Morfitt totalling more than £500,000.

Kieran Rainey, representing the prosecution, said: “It’s not clear exactly what the defendant accepts by way of money transfers.

Richard Ryan

Richard Ryan

“There are around half a million – £533,000. It is only to the defendant’s advantage to set out exactly where the sources of these monies come from.”

The court heard a house of Morfitt’s in Caistor Drive, Hartlepool, is being looked at as a possible asset.

It is alleged that Richard Ryan, 38, formerly of Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, benefitted by £240,000 but is unlikely to have any assets to seize.

He was jailed for six years last year after he pleaded admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine.

A hearing for Morfitt, Ryan and three other people involved in the conspiracy is due to be held next April.

It will establish how much each benefitted by their criminal activity and what available assets they have.

Judge Tony Briggs warned counsel for each of the defendants that unless they provide answers and information about money, it would be assumed it is from illegal sources.

The case is expected to last up to five days.

In July, Teesside Crown Court heard that David Garside, 31, of Hampstead Gardens, Hartlepool, who headed the North East organisation with Morfitt, profited from his dealing by £957,281.

Assets belonging to Garside, who is serving a sentence of 11 years and eight months, included a car, a watch, and cash.

He was ordered to forfeit £32,220.