A mother and son from Brighton were ordered to pay back the profits they made after smuggling 'spice' into a Sussex prison.
Sussex Police said Terena Swaysland, 56, of Medmerry Hill, Brighton, and her son Lewis Swaysland, 34, appeared at Hove Crown Court on Monday May 20 where Judge David Rennie made orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) against them.
Both had been sentenced on February 25 2019 after pleading guilty to money laundering to the value of £40,224.46, police said. This figure was based on monies paid into Terena’s bank account from people known to be connected to serving prisoners and cash paid in around the country.
Lewis also pleaded guilty to three counts of using a mobile phone from within the prison, police said.
Terena Swaysland was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
Lewis Swaysland was sentenced to 12 months for money laundering and nine months for the mobile phone offences, all to run concurrently with each other and with the indeterminate sentence for robbery that he is already serving, Sussex Police said.
On May 20 the Judge ordered that Lewis had benefited from criminal conduct to the sum of £40,224.46 but currently had no assets so a nominal £1 confiscation order was made.
Analysis of Terena's account had showed other monies from unknown sources, and the Judge ordered that her benefit was £50,228.04 with the only current asset being the balance of her bank account of £39.00, so a confiscation order was made in this amount.
Simon Nihill, 53, of Somerhill Avenue, Hove, Lewis Swaysland's uncle, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Monday June 3 having pleaded guilty to one offence of bringing 'spice' into the prison. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years. No confiscation order was sought against Nihill.
Staycie Swaysland, 29, also of Medmerry Hill, Lewis Swaysland's sister, was found not guilty after a trial in January 2019 of one offence of bringing 'spice' into the prison.
Sergeant Dan Thomson said: "Our investigation started when Simon Nihill and Staycie Swaysland were arrested at the prison on June 17 2016. It was alleged that they had attempted to bring in 22.8 grams of ‘spice’ concealed in two packets of Maltesers, worth about £1,000 inside prison, which were then intended to be handed to Lewis Swaysland amongst other confectionary legitimately bought from the prison canteen. It was the vigilance of prison officers who noticed the unusually ‘dishevelled’ packets amongst other items, which led to their arrest”
"The roles of Terena and Lewis Swaysland became clear when analysis of Terena's bank records and mobile phones seized from Lewis in prison showed vast amounts of money going through her that could ultimately be traced to family of other prisoners, clearly payments for contraband.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said: "The court found that the Swayslands had benefited by amounts greater than those they are currently required to repay. However it is important to understand that we keep records of all existing confiscation orders where the full benefit amount isn’t immediately available and regularly check to identify any additional assets which have been obtained since the original order was made.
"We can then apply to the court for an increase in the original order. We can also seek the help of the South East Regional Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team, part of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) who will contact the offenders to help identify more assets.
"Meanwhile, even orders such as those just granted still send the important message that we will always go after criminal assets even beyond conviction, to try to return them lawful and useful purposes."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 returns to this force is distributed equally between the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable. Sussex Police receive 50% cash back from cash forfeitures and 18.75% 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."