Convicted Hailsham drug dealer has criminal profits confiscated

Nicholas Ward
Nicholas Ward

Hailsham man Nicholas Ward who has already been given a four-and-a-half year sentence for peddling drugs, also has to pay back more than £27,000 of his criminal gains to lawful society.

In March 2016 Ward, 38, a decorator, of Turnberry Drive, Hailsham, was stopped by police whilst driving a Range Rover in Hailsham Road, Polegate, and found to be in possession of £3,610 cash.

When detectives executed a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address of his family in Helvellyn Drive, Eastbourne, cocaine with a street value of £28,500 was found inside the microwave. Further smaller quantities of cocaine and cutting agents were found at the address, as well as grip seal bags and weighing scales.

In March 2018 Ward pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court to possessing cocaine with intent to supply and was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment, having been deemed by the court to have a significant role in the supply chain.

Ward pleaded not guilty to a charge of money laundering the £3,610 cash found in the car, and that charge was ordered by the court to lay on file, not proceeded with.

Meanwhile expert Financial Investigators from Sussex Police examined all Ward’s assets and accounts. A significant amount of cash credits and third party transfers had been paid into his bank account over a six-year period, which were unexplained.

At a further hearing at Lewes Crown Court on Friday, August 17, the prosecution successfully applied for a Confiscation Order against Ward under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

His defence team argued that most of the money had derived from cash-in-hand work such as tiling and bathroom refits. They could provide no business accounts, and with a lack of documentary evidence such as receipts and invoices, the court determined, based on the balance of probabilities and the POCA assessments by the police investigators, that the funds had come from his criminal activity.

Ward was found to have criminally benefited by £99,396.71. A Confiscation Order was made for this amount.

However as he was found at present to have available assets worth £27,406.95, which he must pay into court within three months or serve a further sentence of 10 months - and will still have to pay. There is also the option for the police to seek recovery of the remaining difference up to the £99,396.71 for the rest of his life, through a further Court Order if further assets are subsequently identified.

The cash seized from the car is part of the available amount and is being used towards paying the Confiscation Order.

Detective Inspector Mark O’Brien of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said; “Funds seized by the courts through POCA confiscation or cash forfeiture orders go to the central Government exchequer. However a proportion of this is returned to law enforcement. Similar amounts go the CPS and the court system.

“POCA-derived funding that return to this force is distributed equally between the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable. Sussex Police receive 50 per cent cash back from cash forfeitures and 18.75 per cent cash back from confiscation orders such as these.

“We fund Financial Investigators and Financial Intelligence Officers from part of these amounts to help continue our valuable work in seizing criminal assets, with the remainder being used to support local community crime reduction and diversion projects.

“In some cases, like this, the amounts financially seized or forfeited are initially less than the amounts we estimate the criminals have benefited from. But it still sends the important message that we will always go after criminal assets even beyond conviction, to try to transfer them to lawful and useful purposes.”

For sources of advice and support over drugs problems see the Sussex Police website.