A JAILED drug courier benefited from his offending by £80,000, but less than a fifth of that sum can be recovered from him following crime proceeds inquiries.

John Collard was jailed for three years at Durham Crown Court in February, 2019, following the seizure of class A drugs from his car and home, a month earlier.

Police pulled him over, on the A1(M) near Chester-le-Street, as he was driving back to the North-East.

A search of the vehicle uncovered a large quantity of cocaine, while police also recovered, “a significant amount” of heroin from his home, in Linden Road, Blaydon, Gateshead.

The now 54-year-old defendant admitted two counts of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

An inquiry then began under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to discover what assets and savings were in Collard’s possession.

Appearing at a crime proceeds hearing last July, Martin Towers, for the Crown, asked for further time to conduct inquiries into the defendant’s means following, “a surprise development”.

He said the financial investigator has just learned of an undeclared bank account containing deposits made in the two years before his arrest, amounting to £50,000.

Mr Towers said further inquiries were to be conducted, “in case there are any further surprises”.

Judge Ray Singh asked Collard’s counsel, Steven Reed, how his client failed to disclose a bank account containing £50,000.

Mr Reed replied: “It appears there’s been a genuine mistake on his behalf.

“He wasn’t aware of £50,000 going into an account.

“The figure is contested. It’s an account he’s kept for ten years and the money going into that account is money from his employment, and that’s his position.”

When the case resumed at court, on Friday,, Mr Towers said there was now agreement over the POCA figures.

The benefit figure was set at £80,000, with the available recoverable amount £14,571.

Making a confiscation order in that sum, Judge Singh gave Collard six months to pay or risk 12 months in prison, in default.

Mr Reed said Collard would have to sell his home to enable him to make the payment.

Judge Singh warned Collard the balance remains outstanding and if he comes into money or assets, he may have pay the full amount.