A king pin of the criminal world has been jailed for 18 years.
Great grandfather George Evans came across as an ordinary pensioner but he and his wife, Anne Evans, were living a life of luxury off the proceeds of a drug network – as well as claiming benefits.
In July George Evans was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
He and his wife were also found guilty of money laundering resulting from the proceeds of George Evans’ involvement in drugs.
George was also sentenced to 18 months for money laundering, which will be served concurrently with his longer sentence.
Anne Evans, who is in her mid 50s, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her part in the money laundering offences.
The pair, who live in High Road, Beeston, were sentenced on Friday (September 7).
Detective chief inspector Shane Roberts from Bedfordshire Police said: “George was one of the king pins in an organised crime network.”
“He lived a glamorous lifestyle; trips abroad, personal aeroplanes, expensive cars, a big house; it was all there.
“His wife enjoyed the trappings of the good life as much as he did,” he added.
The pair had been living on cash for several years, suggesting that their income was illicit.
George held a pilot’s licence and owned three aeroplanes in the past.
He also had a Jaguar and a Rolls Royce.
The couple have a 16-year-old son and George is a great-grandfather via children from a previous marriage.
George, now 76, came to the attention of Bedfordshire Police in November 2009 after French police stopped and x-rayed a Ford Ranger, which he owned during a random check.
The pick-up truck was being driven back to the UK from Spain by Brian Smith. Charges against Mr Smith were later dropped as he was unaware of the concealed goods and was under the impression that he was only transporting aeroplane parts.
The vehicle had been equipped with specially constructed hollow roof bars hidden between the tarpaulins that covered its load carrying area.
The French authorities found 29kg of cocaine inside these roof bars.
The various packets had purity ratings of between 61 per cent and 79 per cent.
The pure value was around £1million and when cut down into street deals it would have been worth around £3million.
George, who is a welder, had flown down to Girona in Spain to meet Mr Smith before leaving him to drive the truck and concealed goods alone.
At the time the Evans were already being investigated by the Financial Investigation Unit following an inexplicable increase in their fortune.
In April 2009 they had paid £410,000 for a house outright, which was remarkable because only two years previously they had had to sell a house because they were unable to keep up with numerous financial payments including the mortgage.
After the sale they had just £4,000 left.
George and Anne were both claiming state benefits and neither had declared any income to the Inland Revenue.
But between June 2008 and March 2009 they paid £324,000 in cash into their bank accounts – a massive surge in their wealth.
Four months after the drugs were confiscated in France, on March 19, Anne phoned the police and reported that George had gone missing.
She told them that he feared he had been kidnapped because unknown people had turned up at the house and escorted him away.
Police searched the house – a routing procedure with any missing person enquiry – and found about 5kg of Benzocaine in a locked outhouse. Benzocaine is recognised as a cutting agent for class A drugs.
At this point Anne was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, although she was later charged with money laundering instead as significant sums of money had passed through her bank accounts.
She was kept in custody until two days later George knocked on the door of a random house in Marston Moretaine and alleged that he had been held against his will and tortured.
He had had a hole drilled in his foot and various parts of his body had been electrocuted.
He later told the police that he had been kidnapped but refused to say any more about it so this line of police enquiry was unable to progress far.
Det Chief Insp Shane Roberts said: “He was battered black and blue.
“He had really serious injuries and his face was all swelling.
“He had a number of burn marks across his torso. Furthermore he had a hole drilled into his foot.”
At the trial the prosecution suggested that the kidnap and torture were related to the loss of the drugs in France.
“The fact that he was kept in such significant danger shows those people meant business,” he added.
Police searched George’s rented polytunnel in New Road Nurseries, Great Barford and found a further 18kg of benzocaine along with welding gear, bottles of latex used to seal the benzocaine, vehicle parts and a Mercedes Sprinter van.
They also discovered another metal smuggling rig designed to fit the Sprinter in a similar way to the confiscated Ford Ranger.
Additionally they discovered caches of cash of up to £1,000 at a time.
Investigations also showed that George was a regular traveller to Girona and had made at least six previous trips.
If these journeys replicated the one he had made in November 2009 before the consignment of cocaine was stopped by the French police, it suggests that since 2008 he had been responsible for smuggling cocaine worth around £15million at street value.
George had been connected with individuals involved in smuggling for many years.
He gave evidence as a prosecution witness at the Old Bailey concerning allegations of smuggling in the 1970s.
He was convicted of smuggling tobacco in the 1980s.
He has also been arrested abroad in the past for smuggling class B drugs although he was subsequently pardoned for this.
George and Anne were put on trial at Luton Crown Court in October 2011 and both denied the charges put before them.
But during the course of the trial further information emerged.
Due to the legal complexities and further unexpected disclosures, the trial had to be adjourned and was re-set for July this year.
The assets that the police traced in the course of the investigation have been placed under restraint.
There will be an application to have these assets confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
If successful the money will be split between the Home Office, the police and the court service.
It will be used to fight crimes and prevent them in the future.
Det Chief Insp Shane Roberts said: “The Proceeds of Crime Act provides a unique opportunity to bring to justice those generating profit from crime and those living off it.
“Historically gangsters’ wives have lived on in luxury with impunity but this is no longer the case.
A confiscation process will now also be implemented to strip the Evans of everything they have which has been bought from the proceeds of crime.”
Sergeant Giles Hutchinson said that the police will investigate people of all ages and bring them to justice for committing serious and organised crimes.
He said: “We have the ability and the determination to look overseas and liaise with police forces and agencies abroad where that is necessary.
“Having brought you to justice we will restrain the assets accumulated from your ill gotten gains and eventually have them confiscated.
“It should also be pointed out that having been sentenced and with a confiscation order granted against you, you have only a limited period of time to hand over the confiscation figure.
“Failure to do so will result in a further default prison sentence, which you will serve in full.
“Even then, on your release, the confiscation amount will still be there and will stay there until the day you pay and we will continuously review the status of your wealth until the confiscation figure has been paid.
“There is a perception amongst both criminals and the general public that once you’ve done your time it’s a free pass to enjoy the fruits of your dishonest labour.
“That idea could not be further from the truth.”
Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service also commented on the Evans’ crimes.
He said: “Mr Evans was involved in a professional and organised operation to import substantial quantities of Class A drugs into the UK from Spain.
“His wife, Mrs Evans, chose to ignore her husband’s criminality and sat back and enjoyed the proceeds of his lawless behaviour.
“The impact on communities of this high level drug importation is immense.
“Drugs ruin the lives of those who use them and damage the lives of law abiding citizens who become the victims of crimes committed to fund drug habits.
“Mr and Mrs Evans were motivated purely by money, without a care for the misery on which their potential millions were mounted.
“Thanks to a dedicated and detailed police investigation, followed by robust prosecution, a substantial quantity of Class A drugs have been removed from the supply chain, these big time criminals have been removed from society and the public has been made safe from their dangerous, harmful, and life destroying activities.”
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