MONEY seized from a drug dealer whose crimes blighted a deprived estate is being put to use improving the area.

Andrew Thomas Cairns, known as Tommy, peddled drugs around Sherburn Road Estate, in Durham City, before being sentenced to four years and nine months in prison earlier this year.

Now Durham Police has donated £5,000 recovered from Cairns to Laurel Avenue Children’s Centre, where it will be used to buy toys for local children.

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The cash also helped pay for a family fun day, held at the centre on Saturday (June 28).

Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “Villains who operate as part of organised crime groups cause misery for people in our communities.

“Their offending blights people’s lives and erodes their quality of life.

“We are determined not only to bring such criminals to justice but also to use legislation to recovery money they have accrued illegally and, where possible, plough it back into our neighbourhoods.

“I am delighted that today on behalf of Durham Constabulary I am able to give Laurel Avenue Children’s Centre cash clawed back from a man who operated as a member of a criminal group and that it will be used to strengthen the community the centre serves by supporting young people and families.”

Police stormed Cairns’ house, on Fir Avenue, Sherburn Road Estate, last November, seizing £20,000 in cash hidden under a chest of drawers and 19.8 grams of cocaine.

Money and assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act go to the Home Office, which redistributes them across the criminal justice system.

Last year, youth football team the Shotton Colts got 120 new kits, together worth £2,500, through the scheme.

Detective Inspector Traci McNally said: “Cairns was a high-profile figure on Sherburn Road. His drugs were peddled around the estate and the impact of his activity was felt there, with young males engaging in criminality to fund their drug habits.

“The residents of Sherburn Road deserve better than to have to live in this kind of environment and it is an absolute pleasure to be able to say we are putting some of the money we have seized from Cairns back into the community to fund today’s fun day and to provide much needed resources for Laurel Avenue Children’s Centre.

“The money will benefit children within the local community.”

Pam Bloomfield, from the centre, said: “We are going to buy early years toys with the money, which will help the children to develop.

"Any money that we get from partners is a great help and it will really help the families and children that use the centre.”