How can it be that a gang who made a small fortune peddling hard drugs in Portsmouth get caught, yet only have to repay a pittance? Where is the justice in that?
We report today how a confiscation hearing was told that Austin Stanbury led a luxury lifestyle and benefited to the tune of £288,159.82 from his role as the gang’s leader.
But under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, he was ordered to repay only £745. This was the amount of cash that police found on him at the time of his arrest.
If you think that’s bad, then what about accomplice Hamida Merzoug netting £38,227.94, yet being ordered to repay the grand sum of £1.
This was the same amount confiscated from John Scott, who let drug carriers use his home in Cosham and is understood to have benefited to the tune of £12,000.
All three are now serving jail sentences, which is exactly what they deserved.
But we think a lot of people will share our disquiet that they have not been required to pay back anywhere near what their criminal activities earned them.
They lived well on the proceeds, but because they apparently have little or no assets, there is no comeback.
Yet after they are released from prison, there may well come a time when they do have money.
We believe they should then be required to pay what they didn’t seem able to afford when they were in jail.
There will be some who say that they should be allowed the opportunity to start again after serving their time. That the slate should be wiped clean.
But we don’t agree. They were quite prepared to cause misery and profit from selling heroin and crack cocaine.
So we think they should be pursued by the police’s financial investigation unit and a proportion of the assets they build up should be seized.
When Scott was told he had to pay back a paltry £1 by the hearing judge, he smirked and gave the thumbs-up as he was led back to the cells at Southampton Crown Court.
It’s not hard to see why, is it?