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Two week hearing to decide fate of the Diane and Richard Brookhouse drugs ring starts

10:45am Monday 27th January 2014

This live event has finished

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  • Two week hearing starts at Warrington Crown Court
  • Gang lead by Grappenhall man Richard Brookhouse, aged 45, imported £12m worth of drugs into country from France
  • Diane Brookhouse, aged 42, of Coronation Avenue, was found guilty by jury of helping husband to run operation
  • Summing up of case and mitigation for all members of gang to be heard first

4:40pm

Court has now finished for today. 

Mitigation for Mr and Mrs Brookhouse is due to start tomorrow morning. 

Thanks for joining us.

4:39pm

Mr Flewitt ends by saying Mrs Brookhouse took part in the conspiracy to continue funding that lifestyle. 

She has no previous convictions. 

4:38pm

Following her arrest, police searched her home on Coronation Avenue and found a packet of amphetamine hidden in a laundry basket. 

The court hears Mrs Brookhouse used it to lose weight. 

4:37pm

The investigation revealed how money was spent including £1,200 on a Chloe handbag, thousands on botox and cosmetic dental surgery.

4:34pm

Mrs Brookhouse was arrested at 4.45am on April 6 last year at her father's address in Runcorn. 

4:32pm

 

In addition she was able to run cars and live what many people would consider to be a comfortable lifestyle. Her lifestyle was funded by her husband's criminality, in particular this conspiracy.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting

4:24pm

Between August 2007 and March 2013, £55,000 was paid into bank accounts controlled by Mrs Brookhouse. 

The payments were 'unsourced', the court hears.

4:20pm

He says her lifestyle 'vastly exceeded her legitimate income'.

4:19pm

Mr Flewitt has now turned to summing up Mrs Brookhouse's involvement. 

4:17pm

The court hears Mr Brookhouse also has a previous conviction, 16 months in prison, for matters of dishonesty. 

His role in the conspiracy was 'vital', Mr Flewitt says. 

It is not clear if Mr Brookhouse was paid for his role, made money from the sale of drugs, or both. 

Mr Flewitt says whichever it is, he got 'substantial' benefit. 

4:15pm

 

The use of these SIM cards allowed him to organise this conspiracy from his cell. He was the controlling mind.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting

4:08pm

Mr Flewitt says Mr Brookhouse used 10 SIM cards to organise the conspiracy that started in 2012. 

He had some hidden in HMP Kirkham where he was imprisoned, some at a charity shop where he worked as part of his rehabilitation. 

4:00pm

The court heard 60kg of heroin and all of the cocaine was on its way to Mr Brookhouse. 

He was serving a jail term for that conspiracy when organising the later conspiracy for which he is due to be sentenced at some point over the next two weeks. 

3:58pm

He was arrested after police seized a consignment of drugs in Dover. 

119kg of heroin, 99kg of amphetamine, 13.5kg of cannabis and 1kg of cocaine was found.

3:56pm

Mr Brookhouse was jailed for 22 years. 

He was described as 'top man' for Liverpool crime organisation importing drugs from Holland.

3:54pm

Mr Flewitt now focusing on Mr Brookhouse. 

He was convicted after trial in 2003 on two counts of conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs.

3:47pm

After a longer than expected break, proceedings are to resume. 

3:03pm

A break has been announced, probably for around 20 minutes. Back shortly. 

3:00pm

Paul and Steven Harwood were caught with 78kg of mainly cocaine, on April 6. 

The estimate is based on the amount of fishing trips that happened during the conspiracy, and the likely weight of drugs imported, based on an average of 60kg.

2:57pm

The total amount of drugs imported by the gang is estimated at 440kg, Mr Flewitt says. 

Would be worth around £100 million, court hears. 

 

2:46pm

The court hears that the first time Mr Brookhouse is out on day release he contacts Wilde about trip to pick up drugs from France. 

The phone call was made from Knutsford Road, Latchford. 

2:44pm

Mr Flewitt continuing to give an overview of what happened during the conspiracy, and the roles of those involved. 

Mitigation for Mr and Mrs Brookhouse expected to start next. 

2:40pm

Co-defendant Karl Glennon, also appearing today at Warrington Crown Court, would help move the consignments arriving from France to the north west. 

Numerous fishing trips were organised and carried out across the conspiracy. 

 

2:34pm

Meetings also took place on Cliff Lane in Grappenhall.

2:31pm

Wilde is called the 'transport manager' of the ring. 

Mr Brookhouse would meet him when on day release and call him using Mrs Brookhouse's mobile phone. 

She would also go to some of the meetings and wait nearby while business was discussed. 

Mr Flewitt says she 'knew exactly what her husband was up to'. 

2:25pm

Meetings would take place at Lymm services to discuss the 'fishing' trips. 

2:21pm

Andrew Wilde, aged 53, also appearing today would meet co-conspirators including Paul Harwood in Warrington to plan the fishing trips, the court hears.

2:18pm

During the trial, the court heard Mrs Brookhouse used drug money on regular sessions of botox.

2:17pm

 

Diane Brookhouse knowingly helped her husband to run his criminal business while he was in prison. She did so to maintain a lifestyle that she couldn't afford to enjoy through legitimate means.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting

2:10pm

 

Richard Brookhouse was the organiser of this conspiracy. His role was to use criminal contacts to secure the services of drivers and couriers willing to transport the drugs from abroad and across the north west of England.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting

2:05pm

He had set up this conspiracy while in prison serving that sentence. 

Mr Flewitt said Mrs Brookhouse was his assistant, driving him to meetings.

2:00pm

The drug smuggling operation ran from May 15 2012 to April 7 2013. 

Towards the end of that period, Mr Brookhouse was on day release from a lengthy prison sentence being served for a previous cocaine conspiracy.

1:56pm

Mr Flewitt says Mrs Brookhouse was his 'business partner' who helped him to run the operation.

1:54pm

The huge stash was destined to be moved around the north west by Mr Brookhouse and the gang.

1:53pm

In them were 77kg of cocaine worth more than £15 million; 1.9kg of heroin worth £400,000 and 19.7g of Mcat worth £295.

1:50pm

He was helped by son Steven Harwood on one trip.

Both men were caught in a transit van in Essex on April 6, after returning from France, carrying four large holdalls containing 80 packages, hidden under fishing equipment.

1:47pm

He arranged for Paul Harwood to collect drugs worth millions, smuggled back from France on a fishing trip. 

 

1:45pm

Mr Flewitt tells court Mr Brookhouse ran the operation using a network of criminal contacts. 

 

1:35pm

Mr Flewitt is setting out dates for future hearings including when the court will order the recovery of cash made by the drug ring, known as a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing. 

Expected to be on February 28. 

1:30pm

Steven Harwood, Paul Harwood, Karl Glennon and Andrew Wilde are also in the dock, all members of the drugs gang.  

Stephen Crane, another defendant, is not here after falling ill. Has complained of chest pains, the court hears. 

We are about to get started, Neil Flewitt QC will open the case. 

1:27pm

Richard Brookhouse has been brought into the dock, alongside 4 other defendants. 

Mrs Brookhouse remains in the public gallery. 

 

1:25pm

Diane Brookhouse is here, and in the public gallery for now. 

 

1:24pm

We're back at Warrington Crown Court for the sentencing of Grappenhall husband and wife Diane and Richard Brookhouse for their respective roles in running a £12-15m cocaine ring. 

 

12:11pm

We'll be back then for live updates on what happens this afternoon when the case is expected to start in full.

12:10pm

The hearing has been adjourned until 1.15pm. 

The court is waiting for more security staff to arrive to allow the hearing to begin. 

 

11:49am

Still no sign of a start I'm afraid. Delays are fairly typical in court, although given the amount of planning that has gone into this hearing, a prompt start did seem possible. 

We're told barristers are waiting to speak to respective defendants and as there are only two rooms available it's taking a while. 

 

11:31am

If you've just joined us the start to today's hearing has been delayed.

We are waiting for defendants including Mr and Mrs Brookhouse to arrive in court.  

We'll be back when we know more. 

11:26am

Mr Brookhouse, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, has now arrived in the building but court room still empty. 

No sign of a start yet.

11:24am

More on the trial

11:19am

For more on Mrs Brookhouse's trial last month see here

11:15am

Read background on the case here

11:11am

Looks like start will be delayed with reports co-defendant Stephen Crane, also due to appear today, is in hospital. 

10:51am

Due to mitigation being heard first - basically, the defendants' reasons for doing what they did - actual sentences are unlikely to be handed out until next week.

10:49am

Morning all. 

We're just getting ready at Warrington Crown Court for the sentencing hearing of Richard and Diane Brookhouse to start. 

It is likely to take two weeks due to the size of the gang. 

Court staff say mitigation and summing up of case will start first for Mr and Mrs Brookhouse. 

Mr Brookhouse is expected to arrive at 11am.

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