Father and son '˜made thousands by selling ecstasy on dark web'

A FATHER and son received hundreds of thousands of pounds selling ecstasy on the dark net from their '˜modest' home in Portsmouth, a court heard.

Friday, 8th December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:58 am
The defendant is accused of selling drugs on the dark web

Kurt and his dad Ralph Lailan are accused of ‘amassing large sums of money’ through sales of tablets and powders through the hidden version of the internet.

They spent the illicit gains on ‘valuable jewellery, watches and cars or spent on travel and high-end purchases,’ jurors were told.

Police uncovered the operation after UK Border Force agents intercepted jigsaw puzzle boxes containing £80,000 worth of tablets.

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Portsmouth Crown Court heard police delivered the package to the men’s home in Cuthbert Road, Fratton, on May 16, 2016.

Body-worn video footage played to the jury at Kurt Lailan’s trial showed how moments later officers burst in – detaining him in the back garden.

Prosecutor Robert Bryan said officers seized two laptops at the home, and a memory stick – which had been thrown over the garden wall – and an Apple iPhone 5 that he said were the case’s ‘smoking guns’.

Mr Bryan said the pair did not have users walking up to their home and knocking on their door.

But he said: ‘Their supply, because father and son were in it together, was far more sophisticated.

‘It used the most sophisticated, up to date technology, using the internet, and specifically the dark net. Money was moved using the digital currency Bitcoin and encryption was used.’

Jurors were told analysis of the laptops and memory sticks led officers to uncover that the pair created and controlled vendor pages Stone Island, Stone Island 1, Stone Island+ and Tony Soprano999 on various marketplaces, including AlphaBay, Agora, Hansa and Nucleus.

Photos found on the iPhone revealed images of ecstasy tablets.

‘It’s the crown’s case that Kurt Lailan had been trading for a considerable period of time and certainly that the delivery on May 16 was not a one-off,’ Mr Bryan added.

Packaging was found on May 16 and financial records showed Lailan had spent hundreds of pounds at a time at Post Office branches, Mr Bryan said.

He added: ‘He’s either a prolific letter writer or he’s doing something else.’

A month before his arrest Kurt Lailan was part-exchanging a car to buy an £80,000 Mercedes, the court heard. After his arrest he spent thousands of pounds on high-end hotels, menswear at Harrods and perfume.

In his bedroom police found 34 pairs of ‘high-end shoes’, with £7,250 of luxury goods in all, Mr Bryan said.

Lailan was bailed but was stopped by police at Gatwick Airport on June 6 this year boarding a flight to Dubai, the court heard. He had paid for 40kg of excess baggage, and had a £9,900 Rolex watch, a £11,695 Rolex, three rings worth £3,000, £750 and £5,000 and a diamond circle worth £3,500.

‘He had a pair of, it’s almost comical, black Stone Island jeans,’ Mr Bryan said.

Ralph Lailan had income in one account each year of £2,100 in 2010/11, going up to £16,121, £7,246, £16,500, £19,735 and £87,819 in the years following, Mr Bryan said. His son had deposits totalling £77,664 between May 2013 and December 2016.

However, due to Bitcoin being ‘hard to trace’ Mr Bryan said: ‘The final financial sums may never be known.’

Lailan, 26, denies fraudulent evasion of prohibition between January 2013 and May 2016 – accusing him of importing the ecstasy tablets into the UK. He also denies supplying the class A drug.

Maths teacher Shereen Lailan, Kurt’s mother, told jurors her former husband Ralph had left just before Christmas last year and she did not know if he was in the UK or abroad.

She said he came from a wealthy family in South Africa, and had jointly owned supermarkets in the country. Asked about her son’s IT skills and education, she said: ‘Kurt has got no education. I can’t understand the sophistication, I don’t understand how Kurt would, I don’t know.’