A man who laundered more than £97,000 of suspected criminally-made money through various accounts, converting most into cryptocurrency was told he came as close to going to prison as possible.

Passing sentence on 30-year-old Dylan Renwick, Judge Jo Kidd told him that had the prisons not been as full as they are, he would have been going “down the steps” to the cells at Durham Crown Court.

Renwick and accomplice Christopher Orton, said to be work colleagues, appeared at the court for sentence on money laundering charges, relating to almost £100,000 from an unknown source.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, said Renwick, of Tindale Street, Consett, admitted five offences, two each of acquiring and transferring criminal property, plus one of converting criminal property, while his 29-year-old co-accused, of Loveless Gardens, Gateshead, admitted one count each of acquiring and transferring criminal property.

The Northern Echo: Durham Crown Court told almost £100,000 of illegally-made money waslaundered through a network of

Mr Morley said large amounts of money was deposited into Post Office accounts and transferred to various other accounts, much of which Renwick would convert into cryptocurrency.

He said the sums involved “far exceeded” any of the pair's legitimate income.

Renwick made 87 deposits into 12 different Post Office accounts between January and December 2021, for sums totalling £97,457, mostly each for an amount of £1,000.

By November 2021 investigators identified Renwick as making those deposits.

Mr Morley told the court: “Once deposited, it was filtered into other accounts belonging to Renwick and to Christopher Orton’s bank account.”

He would transfer that back to Dylan Renwick in small denominations.

Mr Morley said £87,000 was converted to Bitcoins and transferred on to unknown sources, while Renwick kept £10,000 for personal spending.

The Northern Echo:

When questioned Renwick gave “no comment” answers to police and Orton denied any money laundering, claiming the sums passing from his account related to a car and motorcycle bought from his co-accused.

Dan Cordey, for Renwick, said he accepted the full £97,000 amount outlined by the prosecution.

“The Crown takes the view he retained £10,000, but he would say it was a lesser amount than that.”

Mr Cordey said the defendant made admissions as soon as the case reached the crown court.

“He admits a role within a larger matter.”

Judge Jo Kidd told Mr Cordey: “It was clearly over a decent period of time.”

She said the amount was less than £3,000 from where it would have risen to the next financial level as far as sentencing guidelines are concerned.

The court heard that neither defendant has much of a criminal record, in both cases with a last offence in 2011.

Judge Kidd said: “It’s not a case where the prosecution is able to identify the source of the money.”

She said that having read a detailed probation report and seen a number of references in his case which speak of Renwick’s, “outstanding work ethic,” there was “compelling” evidence to suggest there is the possibility of rehabilitation in the community to enable her to make a suspended sentence order in his case.

Passing a 24-month sentence, suspended for 24 months, she ordered Renwick to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and observe a six-month 7pm to 6am electronically-tagged curfew.

She said as Orton played a lesser role he would receive a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 150-hours’ unpaid work.

Addressing Renwick, Judge Kidd told him his prompt guilty pleas, “have made the difference between you walking down those steps today.

“You have come as close as anybody could have done to getting a prison sentence today.

“I’m content that has created a real deterrent in your mind from taking part in any further criminal activity.

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“If the prisons had not been full I would have definitely sent you, Mr Renwick, to prison.”

Judge Kidd said both defendants would now be subject of proceeds of crime inquiries to see what sums of money or assets could be confiscated from them

The case will be “mentioned” in court relating to those ongoing crime proceeds inquiries, in September.