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Drugs gang ordered to repay £1 each - despite making £1.3m selling heroin
12:27pm Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
A drugs gang who made £1.3m selling heroin and cocaine have been ordered to pay back just £1 each.
John Tait acted as a ringleader from behind bars and recruited cohorts, who made a fortune from their crimes, but were jailed last year for a total of 50 years after they were snared by a police operation.
They were brought back to court as prosecutors tried to take back some of the cash they made in a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard despite raking in up to £462,000 each, five of the gang have been ordered to pay back just £1 because they have no “available assets”.
A sixth man, who also earned thousands from the drugs trade, has to pay back just £985 which he was caught with when police arrested him.
Tait was estimated to have made £203,270 and must pay back just £1.
Brian Harrison profited to the tune of £462,437 and was ordered to pay £1.
Keith Crighton made £398,100 and has to pay back £1.
Steven Cairns lined his pockets with £145,330 but must find just £1.
Stephen Johnson amassed £55,000 and was told he must pay back £1.
Anthony Brigham made £68,750 and must pay back the £985 he was caught with.
If any of the men come into money or assets in the future, prosecutors would be able to claw back more under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Tait was jailed for 12 years for running the drugs conspiracy from behind bars.
While serving time in prison, he passed on Liverpool contacts and relied on his henchmen to co-ordinate his plans.
Brigham, with whom he ran Felling Tyre Services, acted as Tait’s lieutenant, organising payments and dispatching couriers to Liverpool.
The gang was caught by Northumbria Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit working on Operation Monk.
A kilo of cocaine with a street value of £79,520 and 4.5 kilos of heroin worth around £123,000 were recovered at Kibblesworth, Gateshead.
The six men all admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs and Tait, 40, of Breeze View, Felling, Gateshead, was jailed for 12 years.
Cairns, 31, Tamarisk Walk, Sunniside, Gateshead, got eight years. Johnson, 48, of Cranesville, Beacon Lough, Gateshead, Brigham, 41, of Torver Place, Beacon Lough, and Crighton, 57, of no fixed abode, were sentenced to seven years.
Harrison, 29, of Moss Gate Road, Liverpool, the gang’s Merseyside contact, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years, for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, possession of cocaine and possession of criminal property, £2,500 cash.
The dealers buried the drugs and, when Johnson discovered police had confiscated them he frantically began to dig for them – watched by cops.
Tait, Brigham, Johnson and Cairns were arrested after Crighton was caught transporting drugs from Merseyside.
Later at Harrison’s home, detectives uncovered the drugs factory.
They found £4m of heroin, cocaine and Benzylpiperazine, drums of mixing agents and two industrial presses for making tablets.
Cairns, an ex-soldier said to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, played a “significant role” as the main courier.
Meanwhile Crighton, owner of Low Fell Travel, told police he became involved after hitting hard times.