High-speed boats 'sold to drug couriers'

A COUPLE who ran a Suffolk boatbuilding business and had more than £1 million stashed at their home had been supplying boats to international drugs smugglers, a court has heard.

Anthony Bond

A COUPLE who ran a Suffolk boatbuilding business and had more than £1 million stashed at their home had been supplying boats to international drugs smugglers, a court has heard.

Richard Davison and Ellen George, of Colville Road, Lowestoft, ran Crompton Marine at Lowestoft where they built powerful inflatable boats.

It is alleged the radar-evading boats - which could carry massive loads of cannabis and still outrun the authorities - would be sold and transported to southern Europe where they would be used by drug smugglers.

The details emerged at Ipswich Crown Court yesterdayin the trial of 43-year-old Ian Rush, of Brand End Road, Butterwick, Lincolnshire.

Rush was friends with Davison and George and worked at Crompton Marine initially as a transport driver, the court was told.

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He has denied two charges of conspiracy to assist another person to retain the benefits of drug trafficking and conspiracy to acquire criminal property.

Davison and George were arrested on March 25, 2004 as part of a joint Anglo-Spanish criminal investigation into suspected money laundering offences.

A search at the couple's Lowestoft home found more than £1.25 million in cash held in a safe and a holdall as well as false documents. A search of Davison's address in Spain revealed the existence of 500,000 in euros and £49,000 in cash.

It is alleged that between 1998 and the couple's arrest on March 25, 2004 he transported boats to southern Europe, often Spain, knowing that the purchaser of the boats wanted them to run drugs and other contraband from the north coast of Africa to the southern coast of Spain.

It is also alleged that following Davison's and George's arrest, Rush set up a new company called Nautexco Marine to continue selling boats to the drug smugglers.

Simon Draycott QC told the jury: “Rush, Davison and George knew full well that the purchasers of these boats wanted them for one reason only and that was to run drugs and other contraband from the north coast of Africa to the southern coast of Spain.

“These types of boats were in great demand by drug smugglers. They could outrun any Spanish police boat, they were difficult to detect on radar and they could carry substantial amounts of drugs.”

The jury was also read an email which was sent by George in 2002 which read: “We specialise in very high speed, uncatchable craft that have an extremely low radar signature, that work between North Africa and Spain.”

In 2006, George admitted money laundering and possession of around £1m in criminal proceeds.

Davison is currently on bail in Spain which prevents him from leaving the country, with investigations against him continuing, the court heard.

The trial of Rush continues today.

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