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Bilston drug dealer made £2.5 million, court is told

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A tanning?studio boss who pocketed £2.5m through drugs and fake clothing rackets fell into financial trouble soon after being jailed, a court heard.

Darren Bradley, who ran Elite Tanning and Beauty Ltd in High Street, Bilston, flaunted his wealth and bought a string of properties and flash cars, including a Bentley, Audi A3 and Mitsubishi Warrior.

However, during a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday, financial investigator John Baker said that after the 44-year-old was jailed for drug offences in 2010 he struck money problems.

Mr Baker, from West Midlands Police, said: "After he was put into custody there was a letter from his mortgage company saying he was in financial difficulty and would need to change arrangements to pay the domestic household mortgage.

"He had been paying a number of mortgages to service the buildings he was running."

The court was told that Bradley made a total of £2,564,318 as a result of a criminal enterprises that saw him convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis and fraud.

But prosecutor Mr Andrew Wallace said the amount of money being sought as part of the Proceeds of Crime hearing was £600,594 – as that was the most they could hope to get.

Mr Wallace said: "The prosecution say the money was made through Mr Bradley's criminal enterprise and not through his legitimate tanning studio business."

The court heard that from March 2004 in the region of £1.2m had been deposited into bank accounts linked to Bradley.

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He also owned properties in Wolverhampton, including a house on Penn Road, a tanning business on Stafford Road and a house on Manor Road, worth in the region of £105,000.

A house on Britannia Road was also bought by Bradley for his mother, it is claimed.

The court was told he also had financial connections to a gym and a cafe in Dudley.

Last November Bradley, who was living in Penn Road, Gospel End, had 10 weeks added to the eight-year jail term given to him in 2010 after he was unmasked as an armed cannabis dealer.

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During the 2010 case the court was told that in the boot of Bradley's Vauxhall Vectra, outside the £450,000 house on Penn Road, they found 7.6kg of potent skunk cannabis, in a case that shocked neighbours.

Caught with cannabis worth more than £38,000 and a handgun stashed in a first aid kit at his mother's house he was brought to justice thanks to his own CCTV system.

Bradley, who had a £130,000 Bentley among his collection of cars, had originally denied any knowledge of the drugs and said he had never noticed a smell, but the CCTV footage proved differently.

Just hours before police swooped to make their arrests, he was filmed rummaging in a car boot at his home, among bin bags stuffed full of drugs.

After being imprisoned it emerged he had struck a deal with a fellow inmate and orchestrated a fake goods racket from his cell.

He arranged for fake handbags and clothes from top designer brands to be sent to his tanning shop in Bilston.

During a hearing in November 2012 Wolverhampton Magistrates Court was told that more than 200 items bearing brand names such as Pandora, Vivienne Westwood, Tiffany, Paul's Boutique and Chloe, were delivered to the shop.

If they had been genuine they would have been worth just under £100,000.

Trading Standards officers swooped on the High Street store following a tip-off from the Brand Protection Service and seized clothes, handbags and watches. Many of the goods involved in the fakes goods racket were found in cardboard boxes and bin bags and had not been unpacked or put on the shelves.

Of the 221 items seized during the raid in September 2011, 216 were discovered to be fake.

As well as jailing Bradley for an extra 10 weeks, District Judge Michael Wheeler also ordered the business to pay £8,000 for the offences and £500 in costs.

The Proceeds of Crime case continues.

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