Drug smuggling grandad gets 18 years

A great-grandfather has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for drug smuggling – a racket fully exposed after he was kidnapped and tortured by a gang.

George Evans, 76, who lived with relatives at Hadrian Walk in Stevenage for over a year while on bail, was sentenced on Friday for conspiracy to supply cocaine. He will serve 18 months concurrently for money laundering.

His wife Anne, 55, who was living at the family home in High Road, Beeston, near Sandy was sentenced to 18 months for her part in the money laundering.

Bedfordshire Police began investigating Evans after a Ford Ranger pick-up truck in his name was stopped in France in November 2009. On inspection French police found 29kg of high-purity cocaine in 1kg blocks hidden in custom-made metal compartments in the vehicle, with a street value of �3m. The unsuspecting driver thought he was only carrying aircraft parts to Spain.

An operation by Beds officers revealed the Evans’ were living in a large house in Beeston bought jointly for �410,000 in cash a few months previously. But neither of the couple had a declared income other than state benefits and had declared themselves bankrupt two years earlier.

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Before officers could make an arrest, Anne contacted police in March 2010, reporting her husband missing, fearing kidnap.

George Evans reappeared two days later, badly injured, but refused to tell police what had happened.

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As part of the missing person investigation, police searched the couple’s home and outbuildings, finding 5kg of benzocaine – a cutting agent used to bulk out Class A drugs.

Another 18kg of benzocaine was found in workshop buildings Evans rented at Great Barford. A Mercedes Sprinter van was also found partially fitted with smuggling compartments similar to those in the Ford Ranger.

Detective Chief Inspector Shane Roberts, who oversaw the investigation said it was clear Evans spent years making money from illicit means, “using his connections with organised crime groups and his skills as a welder to important significant amounts of drugs into the UK from Spain via France.

“He lived a glamorous lifestyle - trips abroad, personal aeroplanes, expensive cars, a big house, it was all there. His wife enjoyed the trappings of the good life as much as he did.”

He added that Anne Evans would not “live on in luxury”, with plans in place to strip the couple of everything bought with the proceeds of crime.

Their house, cars and other assets are under restraint, pending an application to have these assets confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Baljit Ubhey, prosecuting, said: “Mr Evans was involved in a professional and organised operation to import substantial quantities of Class A drugs. His wife chose to ignore her husband’s criminality and sat back and enjoyed the proceeds of his lawless behaviour.

“The impact on communities of this high level drug importation is immense. Drugs can ruin the lives of those who use them and damage the lives of law abiding citizens who become the victims of crimes committed to fund drug habits. Mr and Mrs Evans were motivated purely by money, without a care for the misery on which their potential millions were mounted.”

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