Drug dealer who police gave £150,000 damages to now told to pay back £35,000
A criminal paid £150,000 in damages over the botched Kevin Nunes murder probe has been forced to repay nearly £35,000.
Antonio Christie was handed the damages cash by Staffordshire Police after his conviction and imprisonment for the 2002 murder of Mr Nunes was overturned.
Christie, of Great Bridge, Tipton, was separately jailed for nine years in 2006 for drug trafficking, prompting police to try to seize tens of thousands of pounds he had made through peddling cocaine and heroin.
However, the 38-year-old paid back just £1 after he was found to have no known assets.
But following the £150,000 damages payout, officers from the West Midlands Asset Confiscation Enforcement team have now seized £34,792 back to pay Christie's confiscation order debt.
Mr Nunes was pistol-whipped and shot five times in a country lane in Pattingham, near Wolverhampton.
Then in 2008, Christie, Adam Joof of Willenhall, Levi Walker of Birmingham, and Owen Crooks and Michael Osbourne, both of Wolverhampton, were jailed after being found guilty of the 20-year-old's death at Leicester Crown Court.
However, their convictions and subsequent life jail terms were quashed at the High Court in 2012, after it was revealed details of police failings had never been disclosed at the original murder trial.
Christie and Levi Walker then launched civil legal action against the force, with the case settled out of court last year.
The damages paid to Christie sparked the West Midlands force to look to cover the outstanding confiscation order debt.
Det Insp Jonathan Jones the from Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Confiscation orders don’t get written off and stay with the person until they are paid.
"As this case shows, it doesn’t matter how long ago you committed your crime – if you benefitted from it then and we suspect you now have the means to pay your debt, then we will come after you.
“We hope this sends a strong message that crime doesn’t pay.
"No-one is above the law and the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit will pursue those who seek to profit out of criminality.
“Just because a criminal has been sentenced, it does not mean it’s the end of our investigation.
"We will always seek to ensure criminals pay their dues and look to claw back their money through the courts.
"By taking away the profits we can break the cycle of criminal behaviour and those who don’t pay back the money can face extra time behind bars."
The money recovered will go to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s 'Active Citizens Fund' which sees ill-gotten gains stripped from criminals and then used for good causes and local projects that benefit communities.
West Midlands PCC David Jamieson said: “It sends a strong message that we are taking money off criminals and funding worthy causes through my Active Citizens Fund with the money.
“We will be spending criminals' loot to make communities safer.
"This case in particular shows how determined we are to make sure crime does not pay."