Hartlepool man told to pay back £125,000 drugs cash

Cash seized by police from the drug dealing operation.

Cash seized by police from the drug dealing operation.

2
Have your say

A criminal who laundered drugs money for a major dealing organisation has been ordered to pay back more than £125,000 to authorities.

Phillip Darby, 59, from Hartlepool, was arrested in a large scale operation by the National Crime Agency and Cleveland Police to smash a cross-Pennine dealing network worth tens of millions of pounds.

He handled thousands of pounds in cash said to have come from dealing overseen by North East gang leaders Adrian Morfitt and David Garside, both 31.

The pair were jailed for more than 23 years at Teesside Crown Court last year for plotting to flood the streets with cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.

Darby, a former welder, was jailed for three and a half years last year after he pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Now he has been ordered to pay £126,415 in available assets after a proceeds of crime hearing found he benefited by £189,477 from his criminal activity.

Phillip Darby, left, with Neal Gutteridge, also a money launderer for thee Hartlepool drugs gang pictured by police.

Phillip Darby, left, with Neal Gutteridge, also a money launderer for thee Hartlepool drugs gang pictured by police.

Police watched Darby, formerly of Silverwood Close, hand over large sums of cash to be laundered on three occasions.

Two, in January and June 2013, took place in a supermarket car park in Didsbury, near Manchester, when Darby passed packages of cash to a man said to be an agent for unknown criminals in the North West.

Darby also handed over £90,000 in a similar exchange with another man in April 2013 at Donnington Services in the East Midlands.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace QC said the cash was drugs money closely linked to Morfitt and Garside.

Drugs seized by police in the investigation into a Hartlepool organised crime gang

Drugs seized by police in the investigation into a Hartlepool organised crime gang

Police who led the investigation have welcomed the court order.

Detective Sergeant Tommy Maughan, from the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: “Cleveland Police, the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team and the National Crime Agency have worked together on this case to ensure the ill-gotten gains accrued by Philip Darby are claimed back.

“We will always pursue those who seek to profit from crime and this case is another example of that.”

Kim Kitney, senior financial investigation manager at the National Crime Agency, added: “By taking away defendants’ assets, we ensure that they do not continue to benefit from their criminal activity, and we have taken away the capital they could use to fund any future operations. Taking away their assets is the outcome which will often hurt criminals the most.”