A CRIMINAL betrayed by his bling and jailed for four years has been ordered to give up his illgotten gains or face more time in prison.
Paul Grafton must hand over £40,000 made from drug-dealing and illegally claiming benefits which funded a lavish lifestyle.
If the 34-year-old fails to forfeit the cash within six months, he will have a year-and-a-half added to his prison sentence.
Grafton was jailed in February after he admitted possessing Class A drugs – cocaine – with intent to supply, and a number of benefit fraud offences.
Teesside Crown Court heard how police were tipped off by people suspicious of the luxury lifestyle enjoyed by seeminglyjobless Grafton.
He had a £160,000 house, changed his car 16 times in nine years and flew to Las Vegas with his wife, Joanne Dickson, to watch a boxing show.
Grafton collected more than £20,000 in benefits by claiming to be a single man living alone and out of work.
The reality was that he was living with his wife and their daughter in relative luxury.
Police mounted surveillance operations and first investigated the benefit fraud before charging Grafton and Dickson, 32, in January last year.
Detectives noted that he frequently visited a fishing cabin and searched it, along with the Middlesbrough homes of Grafton and associate David Foy.
Almost £600 of cocaine and £555 in cash was found at 46-yearold Foy’s house in Millbrook Avenue. It emerged he was allowing Grafton to use his home to store drugs and split them from bulk deals into smaller packages to sell on.
Foy also admitted possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, as well as two assaults on his then-partner, and was jailed for 21 months.
At the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing this week, his benefit from crime was judged to be £5,725, and he was ordered to forfeit the £551 seized by police.
No evidence was offered against Dickson, but a judge said: “Anybody with common sense could see you have come within a whisker of being convicted.”
Last night, Cleveland Police hailed the success of their Too Much Bling, Give us A Ring campaign, and said: “This is an excellent result.”
The campaign was launched in 2008 to encourage the public to report people who they suspected were committing crime and living beyond their means.
By Neil Hunter
9:32am Friday 24th December 2010
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