Mum who sold drug boats avoids jail

A SUFFOLK company director whose business made millions from selling high speed boats to drugs barons has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence today.

Colin Adwent

A COMPANY director has been spared jail after admitting laundering millions of pounds paid to her business by international drug barons.

A costly five-year investigation involving thousand of hours work by customs officers culminated in Ellen George receiving a two-year suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

She had also admitted five charges of evading �394,000 in tax relating to her partner's property business.

The 43-year-old's downfall came when officers found more than �1.25million in cash as they raided her home in Colville Road, Lowestoft.

The mother-of-three helped her partner Richard Neil Davison make and sell high-speed boats from their company, Crompton Marine, to an organised crime gang. Customs sources believe the gang are likely to have netted more than �32 million from running drugs between North Africa and Spain.

Most Read

Among the money found in George's home was �255,000 in cash stuffed in a holdall stored under the stairs.

At the time the swoop took place in March 2004 it was the largest-ever cash confiscation in the United Kingdom.

Around 70 officers made co-ordinated raids in Spain and England on the same day. Davison was arrested in Spain, but has since gone on the run.

From 2002 until the time Davison was arrested in March 2004, around 100 boats used to outrun the authorities were seized in southern Spain.

George pleaded guilty at a previous hearing at Ipswich Crown Court to possession of criminal property and five counts of conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue.

Yesterday Gareth Rees, mitigating, quoted a report which likened her relationship with Davison as Pavlov's dog syndrome. “He barked and she jumped.” said Mr Rees.

Judge David Goodin said there were mitigating factors for not jailing George. One was the youngest of her three children was only 11-years-old. He also said George was making significant progress in turning her life around.

Judge Goodin added he accepted George did not realise Davison was involved with drug runners. She believed he was helping to supply boats to tobacco smugglers.

Between 1999 and 2002 the turnover of Crompton Marine shot up from �600,000 to �4.4m. Over a six-year period from 1998 to 2004 �21.8m went through the business' books.

George was originally charged with four counts of money laundering during a lengthy and complex financial investigation.

These included assisting another to retain the proceeds of crime and possession of criminal property. George pleaded guilty to two counts while the other charges remain on file.

During their inquiry officers trailed a web of money transactions made in Spain, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar.

George did not live a lavish lifestyle. Some of the millions made by Crompton Marine were invested in properties in Suffolk which were rented out, mainly to migrant workers, through Davison's company NDMS.

The rent was used to fund George's expenses, including private schools for the three children she had with Davison, a luxury 4x4 vehicle, and properties in Spain and Tenerife.

After the sentencing Mark Cox, senior investigating officer for HM Revenue & Customs, declined to comment on George's sentence.

He said: “I think sentencing is a matter for the court. You have got to remember amongst our considerations are the successful confiscation of assets. We have already seized �1.25million in cash which has been forfeited.”

A further confiscation hearing relating to the case is scheduled for April 23.