Attempt to claim back drugs gang’s profits

MEMBERS of a cocaine dealing gang jailed for more than 100 years will be back in court when authorities try and claw back thousands of pounds worth of profits they are believed to have made.

The 13-strong drug dealing network headed by husband and wife John and Tanya Rayner, from Elwick, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, were jailed last year for a total of 105 years and five months.

The gang used a luxury penthouse flat at Hartlepool Marina where they dealt in one kilo deals of uncut cocaine sold for £50,000 to drug dealers.

A five-day court hearing has been fixed for a proceeds of crime application when the Crown Prosecution Service will try to claim back thousands of pounds the gang made from the operation.

A preliminary hearing at Teesside Crown Court heard that the application is being contested.

Members of the gang are said to dispute the valuation of the drugs and property.

Some will also argue that some cash suspected of being the proceeds of drug dealings actually came from their legitimate businesses.

Up to seven of the defendants and financial investigators for both sides are set to give evidence during the hearing in July.

Ian Mullarkey, representing John Rayner, said: “He accepts he benefitted from the drugs but doesn’t accept parts of the Crown’s case.”

Businessman Rayner, 36, and his beautician wife Tanya, 30, formerly of The Paddock, Elwick, were jailed for thirteen-and-a-half years and 10 years respectively.

Steven Campbell, 34, of Clifton Avenue, Hartlepool, was jailed for nine years and his right-hand man, Dean McBean, 32, of Marlowe Road, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years.

Mark Gelson, 33, of Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, who fronted the retail side of the venture was jailed for six years and four months.

Gopher, Anthony Smith, 35, of Meadowgate Drive, Hartlepool, was given nine years, while regular customer Jonathan Chapman, 28, of Caistor Drive, Hartlepool, received seven-and-a-half years.

Another large scale customer Paul Johnson, 29, of Maxwell Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Most of the gang had no previous convictions and appeared to be respectable family men, the court previously heard.

But they were lured by the chance of making big money from drugs.

Newcastle dealers Nicky Dishman, 28, and Aaron Christofis, 30, got eight and a half years and seven years and nine months respectively.

Tyneside street dealer, Sharon McEvoy, 41, received three years and seven months at an earlier hearing after being convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Leslie Graham, 47, of Greenacres Farm, Haswell, was jailed for seven and a half years after he put up £10,000 towards a cocaine deal. He was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

All of the others had admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Money claimed back through proceeds of crime applications go to The Treasury.