Plasterer hid £300,000 of drug money in secret compartment in van

A plasterer was stopped by police who found nearly £300,000 of drug money hidden in B&M shopping bags in a secret compartment in his van.

Callum Gough, 24, was driving east on the A50 near Lockington in Derbyshire on May 30 last year.

Officers found seven carrier bags filled with £299,810 in English and Scottish banknotes concealed beneath the floor in the back of the van.

The moment Gough, of Vallance Road, Anfield was pulled over in his white Renault featured on Channel 5’s Traffic Cops on November 4, 2019.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the arrest, which happened at around 9.29am, was part of a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation.

When the vehicle was dismantled, police discovered a specially fitted ‘concealment’ unit, which contained within it seven shopping bags.

Ken Grant, prosecuting, said these were packed with £20 notes, ‘bundled in £5,000 bricks’, and Gough’s fingerprints were on some of the bags.

Gough gave a ‘no comment’ police interview.

He later pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property on the basis he was aware of the concealment and was involved in packing the van with the dirty cash.

Gough, who had no previous convictions, said he had a drug debt and had agreed in order to pay it off that his van would be used in this way and he would drive it to an address provided by others.

Gary Lawrenson, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, had built up a debt through using cannabis but had now quit the drug.

The court heard Gough had been a registered carer for his grandmother, who had
been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 65, and though he was no longer her registered carer, still helped to look after both her and his mum, who had health difficulties and depression.

Judge David Swinnerton told Gough: ‘Clearly you were trusted by those that asked you to put the money in the van because they trusted you with £300,000, give or take a very small amount.

‘You knew full well what you were getting yourself into, because this wasn’t just a rucksack of money in the boot, this was specially adapting your van, and you knew because you helped pack it that this was a very large amount of money.’

The judge said Gough was gaining a ‘financial advantage’ and assisted in what was a ‘group activity’ because there were other people involved, who Gough hadn’t named.

Judge Swinnerton sentenced him to 18 months in prison.

The cash was forfeited at an uncontested hearing at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on September 2, 2019.

Speaking after the case, a HMRC spokeswoman said: ‘People involved in money laundering help to fund the illegal activities of organised crime gangs.

‘We will not hesitate to seize the proceeds of crime and investigate anyone involved.’

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