Would-be Worthing drug dealer ordered to pay back £100,000 after conviction

A would-be drug dealer from Worthing has been ordered to pay back more than £100,000, according to Sussex Police.

Police said Barbara Varns, 61, admitted possessing class B drugs cannabis and amphetamines with intent to supply and two counts of possessing criminal property at her home in Worthing.

After a criminal investigation, Varns, formerly of Cheviot Road, Salvington, was jailed in October last year.

Now, following an inquiry by specialist financial investigators from the Economic Crime Unit (ECU), the cash, drugs, and items confiscated were forfeited in a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, police have revealed.

Officers found Varns in possession of £19,000 in cash which she had stashed in her handbag, and a small amount of amphetamine. Photo: Sussex Police

Police said the court was told how Varns was driving in a van when she was stopped by officers from the Tactical Enforcement Unit in West Sussex on June 10, 2020.

A spokesperson added: “Officers found her in possession of £19,000 in cash which she had stashed in her handbag, and a small amount of amphetamine.

“Police completed a search of her home where a further £33,000 in cash was seized.

“They also found cannabis and amphetamines worth more than £68,000, along with more than 3,000 items of cosmetic products and clothing with tags still on.”

The court concluded Barbara Varns had £103,189.51 of recoverable assets, which were forfeited under a confiscation order. Photo: Sussex Police

None of the items could be identified as having been purchased legitimately, police said.

Varns was sentenced on October 28 last year at Lewes Crown Court for the offences.

Police said Varns’ case, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, was heard at the same court on May 23, where it was revealed she had benefitted to the sum of more than £166,000 from the criminal property.

The court concluded she had £103,189.51 of recoverable assets, which were forfeited under a confiscation order. This must be paid back within six months.

Following the case Detective Inspector Mark O Brien, from the ECU, said: “This was a complex investigation involving frontline officers, Worthing CID and financial investigators.

“It shows our determination to pursue every avenue available to us to not only catch criminals involved in drugs and theft offences, but to also deny them the benefits of their illegality.”

Varns pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cannabis, possession with intent to supply amphetamine and two counts of possessing criminal property. She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.

DI O Brien said the available amount is made up of cash seized, her vehicle, balances of bank accounts held, and the seized items.