A COCAINE dealer jailed after a raid at his caravan home last year has now been deprived of £28,444, as proceeds of crime.

The confiscation order was made against James Bateson Harkess, by a judge at Durham Crown Court on Monday (January 27).

It follows a police swoop on the caravan, at a site at Crimdon on the County Durham coast, which yielded cocaine with a street value of up to £43,500, two rifles and the £28,444, on May 23.

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He received a prison sentence of five-and-a-half years at the court, last July, for what was described as “the significant role” he played in a drug dealing operation.

Harkess, 25, was said to be a “trusted lieutenant”, helping to store and distribute high-purity cocaine from the static caravan.

Adrian Dent, prosecuting, said the 42 items seized in the raid included a wooden truncheon, a stab vest, a Ruger .22 rifle, with 344 rounds of ammunition, plus an air rifle, as well as five quantities of cocaine, totalling 233.12g, and the money, in mainly £1,000 bundles.

Harkess initially told police he was a cleaning specialist earning £3,200 per month and claimed he was looking after the drugs for others.

But when the case came to court, Harkess admitted possession of class A drugs with intent to supply, possessing criminal property and possessing the .22 rifle, plus ammunition, both without a certificate.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, told the court Harkess, originally of nearby Horden, was from, “a thoroughly decent and respectable” home, but fell into cocaine abuse as a result of regularly attending a gym from his teens.

Mr Dent agreed that Harkess benefited by about £157,150, with the realisable assets being £28,444.

Judge Christopher Prince ordered the confiscation in that sum, giving Harkess six months to pay, risking up to a further 12-months in prison, in default.