Three members of a gang that helped to flood the North East with drugs ferried from Merseyside have been ordered to make nominal £1 crime proceeds payments.

That is despite the trio, including one of the gang leaders, being estimated to have benefited from their involvement in the crime by a combined total exceeding £600,000.

Ricky Hemmings, Daniel Mappin and Craig Field were three of 11 people convicted at Teesside Crown Court last year for their roles in a conspiracy to bring large amounts of cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis to the region for onwards distribution and sale.

Forty-year-old Hemmings, of Kirkby, in Liverpool, who was said to have organised the operation from the Merseyside end, received a prison sentence of 13 years and six months, at the court in October.

Read more: County Durham gang led by cage fighter Darren Towler flooded area with cocaine and amphetamine

Andrew Bousfield, prosecuting, told today’s (Thursday August 3) crime proceeds confiscation hearing that it was agreed that Hemmings benefitted from the crime by a sum of about £576,000, but the available amount to be confiscated from him was the nominal figure of £1.

Field, 41, of Lincoln Place, Consett, who was jailed for five years and seven months, was said to have benefitted from his role in the operation by £40,500.

Mr Bousfield said there was an agreed estimated benefit figure of £20,386 for 30-year-old Mappin, of South View, Spennymoor, who received a sentence of five years and four months.

As with Hemmings, the available amount to seize from both County Durham men was £1.

Judge Jonathan Carroll, therefore, made the nominal confiscation orders of £1 in all three cases, formally giving the trio a fortnight to pay at the risk of a further seven days in prison in default.

Read more: Darren Towler and Ricky Hemmings' drugs gang sentences reduced

The position relating to the head of the North East-based gang, former cage-fighting champion Darren Towler, who remains on the run, was also mentioned at today’s hearing.

He was convicted in his absence and received a 24-year prison sentence, last October.

The 42-year-old gang lynchpin, of Rutherford Street, Newcastle, was said to still remain at large.

His counsel Andrew Nixon said the benefit figure in his case, believed to be in the region of £700,000, may be challenged on the basis of the “methodology” used to reach that estimate.

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Judge Carroll, therefore, said the defence argument would have to be submitted to the court by September 28, with the prosecution’s response to be made by October 26.

If the Crown and defence remain in disagreement over the figure after that, a contested hearing will be staged at the court, with a half-day set aside on December 18.

Should Towler remain a fugitive, the hearing will, once more, go ahead in his absence.