For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Woman told to pay back £40,000 from her ill-gotten gains
POLICE have hailed a court's decision to order a woman found guilty of money laundering to pay back almost £40,000 amassed from her criminal activities.
Lisa Whitfield was given 150 hours community service in July 2011 for her role in a scam in which Husqvana chainsaws, clothing and other equipment was sold on the website eBay.
Some of the items had been previously stolen ifrom a factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Whitfield, from Witton Park, Bishop Auckland, made £7,943 from the sale of 222 items between June 2009 and June 2010.
However police suspected that the defendant was making much more money from illegitimate means after a large amount of cash was paid into her bank account. Sums, which she was unable to explain, were also paid in order that her credit card and store card accounts could be cleared of debt.
The North-East Regional Asset Recovery Team, which consists of officers seconded from the region's police forces, began an investigation and brought a confiscation order against Whitfield.
That order was granted by Judge Howard Crowson, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, who said her total benefit amounted to £39,799.
The judge gave Whitfield, who is understood to be in the process of selling her home, six months to pay back the money or face 16 months in jail.
Whitfield is the partner of Brian Thexton who in 2007 was jailed along with eight other men for taking part in a series of cashpoint raids across the North of England and Scotland which netted £350,000.
Detective Sergeant Thomas Maughan, from the team, said the confiscation order captured the value of the stolen goods and reflected her criminal lifestyle.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act police can seize cash and assets if they suspect they are ill gotten gains and do not need to prove how they were come by. Instead the onus is on the offender to justify that they are legitimate gains.
DS Maughan added: “This case shows what an excellent piece of legislation the Proceeds of Crime Act is, allowing us to rid criminals of their ill gotten gains, and we will continue to use it to its full extent.”