Prison for drugs boss who led life of luxury

First published in News

A DRUG dealer who flaunted his luxury £4 million home in a glossy lifestyle magazine has been jailed for more than five years.

Ex-council worker Paul Yearsley, aged 44, had his own cinema, bar lounge and indoor swimming pool at the house he called Knowsley Manor in Heaton.

He claimed to have made his money from car deal ing and property selling.

He retired from his job as a swimming pool supervisor for Tameside Council aged just 28.

Officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) suspected he had made his money in the drugs trade and launched an investigation in 2008.

SOCA’s Steve Baldwin said: “Paul Yearsley was a man whose lifestyle on paper and in reality simply didn’t match.

“Many serious criminals go to great lengths to hide the scale of their wealth, unless they are confident they will never get caught with their hands on the goods.

“Unfortunately for Yearsley he couldn’t resist splashing out on luxury houses and cars.”

Suspicions grew when Yearsley’s seven-bedroom mansion, which he shared with wife Carol, aged 45, featured in Lancashire Life magazine.

Yearsley, of Chorley New Road, also owned a villa on the Costa del Sol, a new Range Rover and a Bentley Continental, having bought and sold 80 properties.

He had also been claiming council disability benefits since his “retirement”

in 1993.

On December 18, 2009, Yearsley went to Middlebrook Retail Park, Horwich, to meet drugs couriers Frederick Hoyle and Tony Dixon. The gang was caught on CCTV in the Premier Inn Hotel car park before they drove to the Thatch and Thistle pub in Chorley Road, where Yearsley oversaw the handover of 120 kilos of cannabis resin.

SOCA officers, who had put Yearsley under surveillance, interrupted the operation and all three were arrested.

The cannabis was packed into four bales covered with yellow plastic and is likely to have been sourced from North Africa.

The drugs had a wholesale value of between £90,000 and £145,000, with a street value of more than £300,000.

Yearsley pleaded guilty on the day his trial was due to begin on October 25 last year.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to five years, four months in prison at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square.

Hoyle, aged 51, from Chelmsford, Essex, was jailed for three years while Dixon, aged 39, of Lee Lane, Horwich, was sentenced to two years, eight months in prison.

Sentencing the three men, Judge Martin Steiger, QC, said: “It is clear Hoyle and Dixon were couriers.

“The role of Yearsley is rather more difficult to ascertain, although I have no doubt he was acting at a more serious level in the conspiracy.

“It seems to me that Yearsley was acting at a distance, over-seeing the handover.”

Mr Baldwin added: “SOCA will now be investigating his assets, and, if we can prove they are the proceeds of crime, we will do everything we can to take them off him.”

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